The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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MIKE A PUBLIC SCHOOL STORY

BY P. G. WODEHOUSE

CONTAINING TWELVE FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS BY T. M. R. WHITWELL

LONDON 1909.

[Illustration (Frontispiece): "ARE YOU THE M. JACKSON THEN WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"]

[Dedication] TO

ALAN DURAND

CONTENTS CHAPTER I. MIKE II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. XII. XIII. XIV. XV. XVI. XVII. XVIII. XIX. XX. XXI. XXII. XXIII. XXIV. XXV. XXVI. THE JOURNEY DOWN MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE AT THE NETS REVELRY BY NIGHT IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED A ROW WITH THE TOWN BEFORE THE STORM THE GREAT PICNIC THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE THE M.C.C. MATCH A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO MIKE CREATES A VACANCY AN EXPERT EXAMINATION ANOTHER VACANCY BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN THE TEAM IS FILLED UP MARJORY THE FRANK WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT A SURPRISE FOR MR. APPLEBY CAUGHT MARCHING ORDERS THE AFTERMATH

XXVII.

THE RIPTON MATCH

XXVIII. MIKE WINS HOME XXIX. XXX. XXXI. XXXII. WYATT AGAIN MR. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND SEDLEIGH PSMITH

XXXIII. STAKING OUT A CLAIM XXXIV. XXXV. XXXVI. GUERILLA WARFARE UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS ADAIR

XXXVII. MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION XXXVIII. THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING XXXIX. XL. XLI. XLII. XLIII. XLIV. XLV. XLVI. XLVII. ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION AND FULFILS IT PURSUIT THE DECORATION OF SAMMY MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT

XLVIII. THE SLEUTH-HOUND XLIX. L. LI. LII. LIII. LIV. LV. LVI. A CHECK THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS ON THE TRAIL AGAIN THE KETTLE METHOD ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE CLEARING THE AIR IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED

LVII. LVIII. LIX.

MR. DOWNING MOVES THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK SEDLEIGH _v._ WRYKYN

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS BY T. M. R. WHITWELL "ARE YOU THE M. JACKSON, THEN, WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?" THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM "DON'T _LAUGH_, YOU GRINNING APE" "DO--YOU--SEE, YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?" "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?" MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?" PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?" "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE, SMITH?" MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER

CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters." "Considering there are eight old colours left. This year it should be all right." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam." "We aren't in the same house. Marjory. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket." was his reference to the sponge incident." said Bob loftily. "Go on with your breakfast. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. if he sweats." Bob was in Donaldson's. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. He was a sound bat. and the missing member of the family appeared." The aspersion stung Marjory. "Anyhow. "Hullo." she said. Jackson intervened. anyway. "I bet he gets in before you." she said. The door opened. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. who had shown signs of finishing it. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers. Mrs. but preferred him at a distance. His figure was thin and wiry. he was curiously like his brother Joe. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. Marjory gave tongue again. Mike Jackson was tall for his age." This was mere stereo. He might get his third."Wrykyn will do him a world of good." she muttered truculently through it. That's one comfort. you little beast. "sorry I'm late. Mike was her special ally. Bob disdained to reply. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. His third remark was of a practical nature. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail. I bet he does. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. In face. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. "All right." he said. . He was fond of him in the abstract. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis. Marjory. Last year he had been tried once or twice. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in.

There was nothing the matter with Bob. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden." shouted Marjory. you're going to Wrykyn next term. Saunders. Mike looked round the table. Mike Wryky. put a green baize cloth over that kid. and every spring since Joe. obliged with a solo of her own composition."I say. ages ago. aged three. somebody. suddenly drew a long breath. sound article. in six-eight time. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term." From Phyllis. "All the boys were there. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. Mike put on his pads. "Mike. Whereat Gladys Maud." groaned Bob. assisted by the gardener's boy. the eldest of the family. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. "I say." "Oh. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so. as follows: "Mike Wryky. So was father. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. Joe's style. Jackson believed in private coaching. In Bob he would turn out a good. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast. you know. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. It was a great moment. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. Mike was his special favourite." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . The strength could only come with years. "Mike. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term." he said. Saunders. "Mike." "Is he. the professional. was engaged in putting up the net." From Ella. But he was not a cricket genius. Gladys Maud Evangeline. "Good. you're going to Wrykyn. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. but the style was there already." she said. with improvements. what's under that dish?" "Mike. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on. like Mike. Mr." began Mr. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus.

miss. it was all there. Master Mike? Play. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife. only all I say is don't count on it."School team. "If he could keep on doing ones like that." "But Mike's jolly strong. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself. too. "Next term!" he said. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. You know these school professionals. and it stands to reason they're stronger. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. It's all there. you see. To-day. in a manner of speaking. and nineteen perhaps. we'll hope for the best. and watched more hopefully. miss." "No. miss. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term. didn't he. as she returned the ball. It's quite likely that it will. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. Saunders? He's awfully good. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. I was only saying don't count on it. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. Still. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. "Well." As Saunders had said." Saunders looked a little doubtful. "He hit that hard enough. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. miss. There's a young gentleman. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting. you see. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. The whole thing is. but I meant next term. Saunders?" she asked. miss." "Ah. miss. especially at . CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. he was playing more strongly than usual. Joe's got. Don't you think he might. isn't he? He's better than Bob. Saunders. I don't. Going to a public school. it's this way. a sort of pageant." "Yes. It would be a record if he did. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. That's what he'll be playing for. perhaps." Marjory sat down again beside the net." said the professional. and that's where the runs come in. with Master Mike. every bit. He's got as much style as Mr. I'm not saying it mightn't be. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. Ready. What are they like?" "Well.

the village idiot. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. He was excited. Phyllis. the train drew up at a small station. and carried a small . but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. On the other hand. his magazines. is no great hardship. but then Bob only recognised one house. though evidently some years older. Mr. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. Meanwhile. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. in his opinion. The latter were not numerous. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. Gladys Maud cried. by all accounts. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. And as Marjory. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. Donaldson's. The train gathered speed. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. The air was full of last messages. and now the thing had come about. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. Bob. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. however. in time to come down with a handsome tip). To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. smiling vaguely. nor profound. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. Bob. It might be true that some day he would play for England. and his reflections. He wore a bowler hat. with rather a prominent nose. there was Bob. frankly bored with the whole business. Mothers. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived.the beginning of the summer term. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. was to board the train at East Wobsley. and Mrs. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. According to Bob they had no earthly. While he was engaged on these reflections. He was alone in the carriage. He had a sharp face. and he was nothing special. was on the verge of the first eleven. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself.

The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment. He was only travelling a short way. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. "Porter." "Thank you. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property. and at the next stop got out." said Mike to himself. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window." "No chance of that. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. instead. and wondered if he wanted anything. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. sir." "Because. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag. . whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. and finally sat down. "Good business. If he wanted a magazine. Besides. I regret to say. And here. He seemed about to make some remark. thought Mike. He did not like the looks of him particularly. The trainwas already moving quite fast. sir. you know. got up and looked through the open window. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. Judging by appearances. he seemed to carry enough side for three. let him ask for it. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. lying snugly in the rack. but." The youth drew his head and shoulders in." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. He opened the door. Mike acted from the best motives. which is always fatal. after all.portmanteau. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him. The fellow had forgotten his bag. then. Anyhow." "Here you are. The other made no overtures. and took the seat opposite to Mike. the bag had better be returned at once. stared at Mike again. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. He realised in an instant what had happened. sir. but. That explained his magazineless condition. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform.

) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again. and." The situation was becoming difficult. "Don't _grin_. What you want is a frightful kicking. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders." said Mike." The guard blew his whistle. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow. which did not occur for a good many miles. "I'm awfully sorry. or what?" "No. "Hullo. looking out of the window. "There's nothing to laugh at." said Mike. Mike grinned at the recollection. "I thought you'd got out there for good. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. "The fact is. This was one of them. "Then.(Porter Robinson." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station. and the other jumped into the carriage. though not intentionally so." said the stranger." said Mike hurriedly. . who happened to be in the line of fire. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity. The head was surmounted by a bowler. "I chucked it out. you little beast. Then it ceased abruptly. and said as much. "Have you changed carriages." "It wasn't that." explained Mike. dash it. It hit a porter. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window." he shouted." Against his will. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. I say. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him. escaped with a flesh wound. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway.

" said Mike. By the way. though not aggressive. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. only he hadn't really." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person." "Frightful. listening the while."Hullo. are you in Wain's?" he said." agreed Firby-Smith. "Hullo. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. Bob. if I were in Wyatt's place." "Oh. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves. all the same. thinking he'd got out." "Frightful nuisance. and it's at a station miles back. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard. never mind. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. They'll send it on by the next train. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required. it's all right. He grinned again. Mike. I mean. rather lucky you've met. "It must be pretty rotten for him. He realised that school politics were being talked. what happened was this." "Naturally. it's a bit thick. and all that sort of thing. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. Good cricketer and footballer. It's bound to turn up some time. I say. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past." said Bob. then it's certain to be all right. Lots of things in it I wanted. "I swear. He took up his magazine again." "Oh. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. "He and Wain never get on very well. They were discussing Wain's now. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term. there you are. and yet they have to be together. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt." "I mean. He's in your house. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all." "You're a bit of a rotter." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether." said Bob. "Oh. "I say. "I've made rather an ass of myself. It's just the sort . Wyatt was apparently something of a character. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. Gazeka?" "Yes. I should rot about like anything. holidays as well as term.

"Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. I think you'd better nip up to the school. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. Crossing the square was a short. and a straw hat with a coloured band." he said. Hullo. Mike started out boldly. . There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. Plainly a Wrykynian.of life he'll hate most. it is simplicity itself. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find." Mike looked out of the window. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. Silly idea. Go straight on. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. Mike. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. Mike made for him. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. It was Wrykyn at last. and tell you all about things. Probably Wain will want to see you. on alighting. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre. here we are. and it's the only Christian train they run. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. They'll send your luggage on later." he concluded airily. all more or less straight. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. So long. "Heaps of them must come by this line. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. and looked about him. and lost his way. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. has no perplexities." Bob looked at Mike. with a happy inspiration. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea." he said. But here they were alone. To the man who knows. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. and. leaving him to find his way for himself. which is your dorm. a blue blazer. See you later. and so on. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. Go in which direction he would. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians.

He felt that they saw the humour in things. He's in Donaldson's."Can you tell me the way to the school. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. this is fame. "How many?" "Seven altogether. please. "Pity. And ." said Mike. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers. square-jawed face. are you Wyatt. You know. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes. You can't quite raise a team. A stout fellow. "That's pretty useful." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time." said the other. "Hullo. There's no close season for me. Any more centuries?" "Yes." said Mike." added Mike modestly. it was really awfully rotten bowling. There was something singularly cool and genial about them. "You look rather lost." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing. So you're the newest make of Jackson. "Oh. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train. How did you know my name. you know." "Oh." said Mike awkwardly. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. shuffling. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. you're going to the school. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging." said the stranger. then?" asked Mike." he said. too?" "I played a bit at my last school." "Are you there. "It was only against kids. you know. Only a private school." said Mike. He had a pleasant. latest model." "I know.

walking along the path that divided the two terraces. I was just going to have some tea. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. We shall want some batting in the house this term. it's jolly big. "I say. cut out of the hill. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground. everything. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school. You come along. Let's go in here. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. He felt out of the picture. That's his. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. thanks awfully. answering for himself. Mike followed his finger. It's too far to sweat to Cook's." said Wyatt. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer." "Oh. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. though no games were played on it." "Yes." he said." said Mike cautiously." said Mike. where." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's. "That's Wain's." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. and took in the size of his new home. Everything looked so big--the buildings. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. which gave me a bit of an advantage. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much." said Wyatt.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term. too. but that's his misfortune. We all have our troubles. They skirted the cricket field. down in the Easter holidays. At the top of the hill came the school. And my pater always has a pro. The next terrace was the biggest of all." "All the same. At Emsworth. He's head of Wain's. "He's all right." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. I believe. Look here. a beautiful piece of turf." said Mike. I know. the grounds. a shade too narrow . He was glad that he had met Wyatt.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. He was older than the average new boy. to give him good advice. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. all right"). and if it comes before we are prepared for it. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. "Sugar?" asked Bob. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. when they met. but Bob did not know this. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. As a rule. Mike had skipped these years." said Mike. and his conscience smote him. please. "How many lumps?" "Two. "Thanks. Mike arrived." "Cake?" "Thanks.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. He only knew that he had received a letter from home. It did not make him conceited. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. Beyond asking him occasionally. Bob was changing into his cricket things. "Well. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. Silence. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. "Oh. if only for one performance. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. it is apt to throw us off our balance. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. There is nothing more heady than success. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. at school. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. all right." . The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. "Oh. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. and his batting was undeniable. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules." said Mike.

thanks. What I mean to say is. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam. Mike." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. You know." "What do you mean?" said Mike. Bob pulled himself together. Only you see what I mean. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon. "It's only this." said Bob." he said at length. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake." he said." added Bob. "You know.Silence. you've got on so well at cricket. Look after him! Him!! M. I should take care what . of course. in the third and so on. "I shouldn't--I mean." Mike's feelings were too deep for words. "You've been all right up to now. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner." said Bob. "Oh. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good. while Bob. outraged." said Bob. "I can look after myself all right. "He said he'd look after you. I'm not saying a word against you so far. and spoke crushingly. "What!" said Mike. "Look here. filled his cup. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. "He needn't trouble. if you don't watch yourself. "Like him?" "Yes. making things worse. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal. "Yes. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. Jackson." said Mike cautiously. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience." he said." said Mike. "Yes?" said Mike coldly. I'm not saying anything against you so far. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother.

But don't you go doing it. (Mike disliked being called "young man." said the Gazeka. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. You'd better be going and changing. he's an awfully good chap. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again. "All right. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. He felt very sore against Bob. Stick on here a bit. if you want any more tea. Thing is. but still----" "Still what?" "Well." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again." "What do you mean?" "Well. He's that sort of chap. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you.you're doing with Wyatt. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. Don't cheek your . I've got to be off myself. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. I'm going over to the nets. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody. He doesn't care a hang what he does. "I've been hearing all about you. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith." Mike followed him in silence to his study. though. all spectacles and front teeth. because he's leaving at the end of the term. so said nothing. young man. young man. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. of course." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. "What rot!" said Mike." he said. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. spoke again. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. That youth. "Ah. Not that he would try to." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. A good innings at the third eleven net. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. "I promised I would. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. Don't make a frightful row in the house. met Mike at the door of Wain's. it doesn't matter much for him. He's never been dropped on yet. I wanted to see you." Mike shuffled. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after. I mean.") "Come up to my study. But don't let him drag you into anything.

laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. The room was almost light. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. just the sort of night on which. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. if he had been at home. "Is that you. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. Overcoming this feeling. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. Wash. but with rage and all that sort of thing." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. increased. "No. too. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself.elders and betters. of wanting to do something actively illegal. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me." And Wyatt. as I'm morally certain to be some day. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. I shall be deadly. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. Like Eric. would just have suited Mike's mood. Mustn't miss a chance like this." "I say. and hitting it into space every time. but it was not so easy to do it. Specially as there's a good moon. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. Cut along." said Wyatt. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. he burned. So long. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. and the second time he gave up the struggle. He got out of bed and went to the window. He sat up in bed. and up to his dormitory to change." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. You'll find that useful when the time comes." "Are you going out?" "I am. "Hullo. or night rather. That's all. It was a lovely night. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. not with shame and remorse." he said. by a slight sound. but he . A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. you stay where you are. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. but he had never felt wider awake. He would have given much to be with him. with or without an air-pistol. wriggled out." said Wyatt. "When I'm caught. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. Anyhow. he walked out of the room. He opened his eyes. you can't. he would have been out after moths with a lantern.

There was a little soda-water in the syphon. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. wound the machine up. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. feeling that he was doing himself well. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. and set it going. There were the remains of supper on the table. The soda-water may have got into his head. A voice accompanied the banging. Everybody would be in bed. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. along the passage to the left. and an apple.. then. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. He was not alarmed." And. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. he proceeded to look about him. one leading into Wain's part of the house. Mike recognised it as Mr. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. Field actually did so. And this was where the trouble began. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. Mr. After which.realised that he was on parole. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. Wain's. Mr. perhaps. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. Food. he examined the room. He took some more biscuits. _". Good gracious_ (sang Mr. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. Down the stairs. This was Life. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. To make himself more secure he locked that door. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house."_ Mike stood and drained it in. after a few preliminary chords. Field). as indeed he was. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras.. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. The next moment. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. All thought of risk left him. As it swished into the glass. He finished it. It was quite late now. turning up the incandescent light. He had promised not to leave the house. It would be quite safe. the other into the boys' section. Then a beautiful. feeling a new man. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. and there was an end of it. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. consoling thought came to him. very loud and nasal. He crept quietly out of the dormitory.

He jumped out of bed. though it was not likely. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. Evidently his . Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. It had occurred to him. and reflected. and warn Wyatt. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. just in time. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. Then he began to be equal to it. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. This was good. and he'd locked one door. he must keep Mr. So long as the frontal attack was kept up. J. but he must not overdo the thing. and could get away by the other. "He'd clear out. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. that if Mr. and found that they were after him. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. he opened the window. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. and get caught. was that he must get into the garden somehow. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. He lay there. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. on the other hand. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. He stopped the gramophone. and dashed down the dark stairs. the most exciting episode of his life. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. And at the same time." thought Mike. Wain. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. If. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him." The answer was simple. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. to date. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. His position was impregnable. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. The handle-rattling was resumed. Wain from coming to the dormitory. the kernel of the whole thing. and he sat up. The main point. Two minutes later he was in bed. It was open now. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room." pondered Mike. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. breathless. suspicion would be diverted.need to be alarmed. on entering the room. "would A. "Now what.

sir." said Mike. "Of course not. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. sir. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. Mike. He looked about him. looking out." "A noise?" "A row. a row. drew inspiration from it. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. Mr. I don't know why I asked. Wain. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. His hair was ruffled. Jackson." If it was Mr. in spite of his anxiety. and. "I think there must have been a burglar in here." said Mr. He knocked at the door. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. could barely check a laugh. He spun round at the knock." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. "_Me_. sir. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. "Please." said Mike. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. I thought I heard a noise. please. "So I came down. Mr. sir." . thin man. Mr. "Thought I heard a noise. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. Wain hurriedly. Wain was a tall. through which he peered owlishly at Mike." "A noise?" "Please." "Looks like it. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. sir!" said Mike. He looked like some weird bird. and went in. All this is very unsettling. He wore spectacles. sir. sir. catching sight of the gramophone. Wain continued to stare." "I found the window open. Wain was standing at the window. sir. please. "Of course not. of course not.retreat had been made just in time.

you might . but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. sir. sir. Jackson." Mr. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked. ruminatively. Wain looked at the shrubbery." said Wyatt. I know. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere." "Perhaps you are right. His knees were covered with mould. eliciting sharp howls of pain. He ran to the window. Wain. "Not likely. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. "Is that you." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. sir. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. Mike stopped. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. sir." cried Mike. I mean. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. then tore for the regions at the back. Wain." said Mr." Mr. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. There might be a bit of a row on his return. "He might be still in the house."He's probably in the garden. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. "Who on earth's that?" it said. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. such an ass. _"Et tu. He felt that all was well. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. The moon had gone behind the clouds." "Yes. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. as who should say. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. An inarticulate protest from Mr. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. "You young ass. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. sir. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again.

I'll get back. Exceedingly so." And Mike rapidly explained the situation. "Undoubtedly so. You dash along then. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course.at least have the sense to walk quietly. you might come down too. it was rather a rotten thing to do." Mr. standing outside with his hands on the sill. Have you no sense. Come in at once. Well. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please. but you don't understand." "Please. You must tread like a policeman. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold. "I couldn't find him. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window. It is exceedingly impertinent of you. "It's miles from his bedroom." "Yes. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. "You have no business to be excited. Wain. Exceedingly so" . I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. Wain was still in the dining-room. I suppose. sir. you see. I will not have it. All right. The thing was. Or. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily.' Ripping it was. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. You have been seriously injured. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird. sir." said Mike. I will not have it. Latin and English. He must have got out of the garden." "Undoubtedly." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. but I turned on the gramophone. if you like." "It wasn't that. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. "I never saw such a man." he said. sir. "You're a genius. till Wain came along. and I'll go back to the dining-room. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. so excited." "That's not a bad idea. "But how the dickens did he hear you. You will do me two hundred lines." said Mr." Mike clambered through the window. It was very wrong of you to search for him. come in. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone.

in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. "Stay where you are. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. and have a look round. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes." he said. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. Jackson? James." said Mike. Wain "father" in private. of Donaldson's. Wain into active eruption once more. James. the other outside. preparatory to going on the river. . The question stung Mr. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. I must be obeyed instantly. "only he has got away. getting tea ready. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. "I was under the impression. sir. He yawned before he spoke. hanging over space." said Mike." They made it so. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. Clowes was on the window-sill. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. Mr. sir." "Shall I go out into the garden.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. "sir" in public. I will not have boys running about my garden at night. "We might catch him. It is possible that you mistook my meaning. It is preposterous. "I thought I heard a noise." "But the burglar. Both of you go to bed immediately. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. one leg in the room. In these circumstances. "Under no circumstances whatever. you will both be punished with extreme severity." he said. Inordinately so. James--and you. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. watching some one else work. you understand me? To bed at once. And. sir?" said Wyatt. You hear me. At least Trevor was in the study. He called Mr. He loved to sit in this attitude. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first." he said excitedly.

Trevor was shorter. I should think. Trevor. I said." said Clowes." "That shows your sense. I suppose it's fun to him.' That's what I say." "My lad. slicing bread. Clowes was tall. That's a thing you couldn't do. I have a brother myself. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun. laddie. Did I want them spread about the school? No. 'One Clowes is luxury." "You aren't doing a stroke. you slacker. two excess." "I withdraw what I said about your sense. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school. Couple of years younger than me. I mean. Have you got any brothers." "See it done. Trevor. and looked sad." said Trevor. If you'd been a silly ass.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. we shall want some more jam to-morrow." breathed Trevor. 'and he's all right." "Marlborough. I did not." said Trevor. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded. packing . "I said. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. "One for the pot. I say. Like the heroes of the school stories. But when it comes to deep thought. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. "Come and help.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn.'" "You were right there." "Too busy. and very much in earnest over all that he did. Not a bad chap in his way. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. Trevor?" "One." "My mind at the moment." said Clowes. which he was not. 'Good chap. My people wanted to send him here. I often say to people. you'd have let your people send him here." "Silly ass. I'm thinking of Life. Better order it to-day. Cheek's what I call it. we see my brother two terms ago. Consider it unsaid. but can't think of Life. "All right. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work. I lodged a protest.' At least. Where is he? Your brother. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. Aged fifteen. Tigellinus.' I say. as our old pal Nero used to remark. where is he? Among the also-rans. Hence.

They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. perhaps. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. It's all right. If I frown----" "Oh. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. "Mr. but. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct. too. Bob seems to be trying the first way. but while they're there. We were on the subject of brothers at school. My heart bleeds for Bob." "Well?" "Look here. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. And here am I at Wrykyn. But the term's hardly started yet. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. You say Jackson's all right. I've talked to him several times at the nets. the term's only just started. which is what I should do myself. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. considering his cricket. loved by all who know me. which he might easily do. fawned upon by masters. it's the limit. At the end of that period. In other words. however. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded. revered by all who don't. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way.up his little box. with an unstained reputation. naturally. come on." "That's just it. what happens? He either lets the kid rip." "Young Jackson seems all right. At present. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks." he said. who looks on him as no sportsman. courted by boys. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers." "What's up? Does he rag?" ." "Jackson's all right. he returned to his subject. What's wrong with him? Besides. I suppose. and tooling off to Rugby. so he broods over him like a policeman." "What a rotten argument. as I said. For once in your life you've touched the spot. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. It's the masters you've got to consider. Now. It's just the one used by chaps' people." said Trevor." "Why?" "Well. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. so far. and he's very decent. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod. he is. It may be all right after they're left.

It's nothing to do with us. But what's the good of worrying. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. He's asking for trouble." "I don't know. and. and which is bound to make rows between them. walking back to the house. And if you're caught at that game. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. Let's stagger out. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. if Jackson's so thick with him. and does them. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. He's head of Wain's. The odds are. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row. All I say is that he's just the sort who does."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging." "He never seems to be in extra. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. . and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. Still. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him. anyhow. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. tell the Gazeka." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. Well. every other night. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days. Better leave him alone. You'd only make him do the policeman business." "The Gazeka is a fool." "Yes." Trevor looked disturbed. however. unless he leaves before it comes off. One always sees him about on half-holidays. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm." "I know. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. he's on the spot. that he'll be roped into it too." "If you must tell anybody. it's the boot every time. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. Besides. I shouldn't think so." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. which he hasn't time for. For instance." "All front teeth and side. too. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river.

" "I should." "I know. all right." said Bob. I hear. being in the same house." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt." he said. "That reminds me. That's his look out. I meant the one here." "Oh. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either." "That's all right then. It's his last. I think I'll speak to him again. If Wyatt likes to risk it." "Oh. by Jove. "My brother. Smith said he'd speak to him.He found him in his study. Bob." "Nor do I." "Oh. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too. "look here. but." "I've done that." "Not a bit. then. you know. "I say. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor." ." "Don't blame him. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day. bewildered. sitting up. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking. oiling a bat. W. Why?" "It's this way. He'd have more chance. you did? That's all right. Well?" "About your brother. I forgot to get the evening paper. I didn't mean that brother. I spoke to him about it. I say. Are you busy?" "No. that I know of. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper." "I should get blamed. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. J." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. Rather rot. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. I think. Only he is rather mucking about this term. though.

' There's a subtle difference. though. Pretty good for his first term." "Better than at the beginning of the term." "Hope so. The next moment the thing has begun. I asked him what he thought of me. for years. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. it's not been chucked away. W. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. And. the pro. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. But Mike fairly lived inside the net. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. at home. I expect." said Trevor. You were rather in form. Better than J. . even. You have a pro. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. when suddenly there is a hush." "Yes. I simply couldn't do a thing then. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn. when they meet. don't you?" "Yes." "Well. and had beaten them. Henfrey'll be captain. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. having finished his oiling and washed his hands. But my last three innings have been 33 not out. and Bob. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence.W. Bob. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term. and there falls on you from space one big drop." "Saunders." "Sort of infant prodigy. I was away a lot.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days. started on his Thucydides. and he said.s. he thinks. and 51. It is just the same with a row. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. I didn't go to him much this last time. Mr. 18. anyhow. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. "I thought I heard it go. Nearly all the first are leaving. to coach you in the holidays. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. I suppose he'll get his first next year." He went back to his study. Some trivial episode occurs. and you are standing in a shower-bath.

"P. "MIKE. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up.W. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. I may get another shot. the Surrey man. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. could you? I'm rather broke. and 30 in a form match. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. He was in it all right. The thing had happened after this fashion. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. They stop the cricket on O. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. only they bar one another) told me about it." And. because they won the toss and made 215. and Spence). because I didn't get an innings. There's a dinner after the matches on O. and there was rather a row. B. The banquet. He was run out after he'd got ten. on the back of the envelope. I wasn't in it.--Half-a-crown would do. songs. and half the chaps are acting. Rather decent. only I'd rather it was five bob. I didn't do much. Low down. lasted.--I say. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. day. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. lengthened by speeches." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. as a . I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. Rot I call it.P. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket. I had to dive for it. Still.S. On the Monday they were public property. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. I hope you are quite well. I believe he's rather sick about it. "Your loving son. and I got bowled). only I don't quite know where he comes in.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches. "P. Rather rot.W. so I played. So I didn't go in. but didn't do much. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game.W.S. Love to everybody.--Thanks awfully for your letter. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. together with the school choir. Bob played for the first. Jones. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. so we stop from lunch to four. He's Wain's step-son.

Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. and that the criticisms were. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. and turn in. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. Risks which before supper seemed great. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. essentially candid and personal. brainless. show a tendency to dwindle. it was not considered worth it.rule. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. The school was always anxious for a row." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. therefore. But tomatoes cannot. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. as usual. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. In the present crisis. the school. which they used. . the town. About midway between Wrykyn. When. Words can be overlooked. and. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. and hit Wyatt on the right ear. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. as a rule. This was the official programme. But there were others. one's views are apt to alter. and the authorities. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. rural type of hooliganism. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. accordingly. As a rule. till about ten o'clock. and had been the custom for generations back. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. It was the custom. and then race back to their houses. the town. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. for the honour of the school. all might yet have been peace. and Wrykyn. in the midst of their festivities. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. Wrykyn. Possibly. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place.

while some dear friend of his. except the prisoners. But. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. depressed looking pond. for they suddenly gave the fight up." he said. "Now then. The science was on the side of the school. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. It raged up and down the road without a pause. but two remained. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself.There was a moment of suspense." he said quietly. "Let's chuck 'em in there. when a new voice made itself heard. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. He very seldom lost his temper. and the procession had halted on the brink. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. . now in a solid mass. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. The leaders were beyond recall. Wyatt. of whose presence you had no idea. and then kicks your shins. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. Gloomy in the daytime. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. A move was made towards the pond. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring. They were smarting under a sense of injury. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. and stampeded as one man. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. it looked unspeakable at night. Barely a dozen remained. at any rate at first. it was no time for science." it said. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. now splitting up into little groups. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. It struck Wyatt. panting. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. By the side of the road at this point was a green. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted.

"Make 'em leave hold of us." said Mr. a cheer from the launching party. This isn't a lark. with a change in his voice. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave." said Wyatt." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. but you ought to know where to stop. Don't swallow more than you can help. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. but if out quick they may not get on to you. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman. "This is quite a private matter. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. You can't do anything here. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. The prisoner did. Butt. Constable Butt." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. whoever you are. it's an execution. a yell from the policeman. sprang forward. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner. That's what we are. Carry on." said Wyatt. Butt. Mr. and seized the captive by the arm. understanding but dimly. The policeman realised his peril too late. and suspecting impudence by instinct. and vanished." "It's anything but a lark." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land." "Stop!" From Mr. a lark's a lark. A howl from the townee. I expect there are leeches and things there. young gentleman. and a splash compared with which . A drowning man will clutch at a straw. "Ho. "You run along on your beat. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke. or you'll go typhoid." "I don't want none of your lip." "Ho!" said the policeman. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. you chaps. you chaps. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond. are they? Come now. Butt. scrambled out. going in second. "All right. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. He ploughed his way to the bank. He'll have churned up a bit."What's all this?" "It's all right.

The tomato hit Wyatt. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. but in the present case. Butt gave free rein to it. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. but both comparisons may stand. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire.the first had been as nothing. Butt fierce and revengeful. it has become world-famous. Wyatt. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. and the interested neighbours are following their example. before any one can realise what is happening. Mr. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. really!" said the headmaster. sir. having prudently changed his clothes.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. and "with them. and. (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. Butt. The imagination of the force is proverbial. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. Following the chain of events." said Wyatt. "Do you know. they did. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. Police Constable Alfred Butt. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. Mr. and throws away the match. I shall--certainly----" . with a certain sad relish. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. _Plop_!" said Mr. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. calling upon the headmaster." as they say in the courts of law. sheets of fire are racing over the country. went to look for the thrower. Butt. we find Mr. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so)." "Threw you in!" "Yes. with others. "Really. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. "Threw me in. Yes. It was no occasion for light apologies. and all was over. sir. sir. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass.

Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here." concluded Mr. right from the beginning. Wringin' wet." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist.' I says. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. 'a frakkus.' And. 'Wot's this all about. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here." "Yes--Thank you. sir. sir!" said the policeman. sir. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot. with the air of one confiding a secret. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten. sir. He . 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus." he added. sir." "Yes. and fighting. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood. Butt. I will look into the matter at once. and I thought I heard a disturbance. sir." "H'm--Well. Had he been a motorist. sir. constable. "I was on my beat.' And. I can hardly believe that it is possible. ''Allo. Butt promptly. Good-night. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. Butt started it again. Lots of them all gathered together." "Good-night. "Couple of 'undred. They shall be punished.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. and I couldn't see not to say properly. sir. I wonder?' I says. "How many boys were there?" he asked." said Mr. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. sir. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. sir! Mrs. They actually seized you. As it was. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_. according to discretion.' I says. beginning to suspect something." "Yes. too. Mr. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake." The headmaster's frown deepened. again with the confidential air." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely. 'Why. She says to me. "I _was_ wet." "I have never heard of such a thing. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying. sir. I says to myself.

a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. There is every probability--in fact. . and the school. as a whole. was culpable. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. and in private at that.. become public property. which was followed throughout the kingdom. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. and finally become a mere vague memory. The pond affair had. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life.." they had said. he got the impression that the school. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term. however. When condensed. I say!" Everybody was saying it. They were not malicious. had approved of the announcement exceedingly.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. The blow had fallen. A public school has no Hyde Park. expend itself in words. or nearly always. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. he would have asked for their names. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt.W. It could not understand it. It happened that. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. of course. "There'll be a frightful row about it. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. It must always. right in it after all. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. And here they were.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. though not always in those words. The school was thunderstruck. blank. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. it is certain--that. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. always ready to stop work. which at one time had looked like being fatal.. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. As it was. It was one vast. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way. about a week before the pond episode. Only two days before the O. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. and not of only one or two individuals. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. and crushed guilty and innocent alike. astounded "Here. but for one malcontent.

on the whole. and he was full of it." Neville-Smith stopped and stared. as a whole. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat.The malcontent was Wyatt. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. It requires genius to sway a school." . Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. He added that something ought to be done about it. Leaders of boys are almost unknown." "You're rotting. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. Wyatt was unmoved. He said it was a swindle. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons." "Why not?" said Wyatt." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. and scenting sarcasm. Leaders of men are rare. "Well. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic. Before he came to Wyatt. that it was all rot. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. and that it was a beastly shame. I'm not going to. and. intense respect for order and authority. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. a daring sort of person. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. even though he may not approve of it. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority." "All right. a day-boy. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. and probably considered himself. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. their ironbound conservatism. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter. Wyatt acted on him like some drug.

what a score. I should be glad of a little company. I say. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone." "By Jove. and let you know. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith." Another pause. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority." "I could get quite a lot. "I say." "I say. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's. Wyatt whistling." said Wyatt. wouldn't it be?" "Yes. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow. They couldn't sack the whole school." said Neville-Smith after a pause. "It would be a bit of a rag."No. excited way." "I suppose so." "You'll get sacked." "That would be a start. "Do. But only because I shall be the only one to do it. they couldn't do much. ragging barred. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. Groups kept forming in corners apart. Are you just going to cut off. but. nor could they! I say!" They walked on. I believe." "Not bad. If the whole school took Friday off." "All right. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea.

A few. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement." said Willoughby. rather to the scandal of the authorities. came on bicycles. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. though unable to interfere." . to Brown. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. the only other occupant of the form-room. but it had its leaven of day-boys." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night." "Somebody would have turned up by now. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late. who. saying it was on again all right. I should have got up an hour later. The majority of these lived in the town. I say. "It's jolly rum. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays.W. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. what a swindle if he did. "I say. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. I can't make it out. as a general rule. Some one might have let us know. Why. were empty. and walked to school. however. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. trying to get in in time to answer their names. like the gravel. it's just striking. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you. The form-rooms. and at three minutes to nine." "So do I. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters." "So should I.'s day row. Punctuality is the politeness of princes. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock." said Brown. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. whose homes were farther away. of the Lower Fifth. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning.

Spence as he entered. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. sir. if the holiday had been put on again. He was not a house-master. sir."Hullo. here _is_ somebody. A brisk conversation was going on. there is a holiday to-day. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. Perhaps. as he walked to the Common Room. Spence pondered. we don't know. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. sir." It was the master of the Lower Fifth. sir. Spence told himself. "Hullo. sir." "Yes. "Willoughby." he said. Spence. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room." Mr. Seeing the obvious void. ." Mr. Several voices hailed Mr. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. Spence?" Mr. Spence. Spence seated himself on the table. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned. he stopped in his stride. sir. We were just wondering. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. He walked briskly into the room. and looked puzzled. Not a single one. and the notice was not brought to me. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. and a few more were standing. as you say. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. as was his habit." "None of the boarders?" "No. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. And they were all very puzzled. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been. Mr. sir. Brown." "Have you seen nobody?" "No." "This is extraordinary. "Well. The usual lot who come on bikes." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are." "We were just wondering. after all." "I've heard nothing about it.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

sir?" inquired the landlord politely. As the army drew near to the school. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column." said Wyatt. singing the school song. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. Other inns were called upon for help. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. it melted away little by little. as generalissimo of the expedition. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. * * * * * At the school. "Yes. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. jam. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. please. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. At the school gates only a handful were left. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. and as evening began to fall. Private citizens rallied round with bread. and apples." the leading inn of the town.his paper. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. They looked weary but cheerful. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. . net practice was just coming to an end when. He always told that as his best story. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. Wyatt. and he always ended with the words. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. "Anything I can do for you. In addition. with comments and elaborations. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. the march home was started." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. At Worfield the expedition lunched. It was not a market-day. fortunately. And two days later. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. faintly. And the army lunched sumptuously. In the early afternoon they rested. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. each house claiming its representatives. They descended on the place like an army of locusts.

"There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town." Wyatt was damping. speechless. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have." said Wyatt. "I say. and gazed at him. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais.Bob Jackson. "Hullo. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features. But it came all . thought the school." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. It hasn't started yet. indeed. The less astute of the picnickers. met Wyatt at the gate. The school streamed downstairs." he chuckled. they didn't send in the bill right away. What do you mean? Why?" "Well. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics." he said. isn't it! He's funked it. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. marvelling. There was. "My dear chap. were openly exulting. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. "this is all right. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement." He then gave the nod of dismissal. I thought he would. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. This was the announcement. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. Now for it. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice. walking back to Donaldson's. Finds the job too big to tackle. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance.

And "the following boys" numbered four hundred. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them. I was one of the first to get it. and post them outside the school shop." "Glad you think it funny. Only the bigger fellows. "I don't know what you call getting off. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday. Buns were forgotten. He lowers all records. "By Gad. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval." Wyatt roared with laughter. "Bates must have got writer's cramp. You wait." "Do you think he's going to do something. The headmaster had acted. I notice. "he is an old sportsman." said Mike ruefully. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one. "What!" "Yes. then?" "Rather. "None of the kids are in it. It was a comprehensive document. as they went back to the house. To-day. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson. This bloated document was the extra lesson list. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. He was quite fresh." said Clowes." said Mike. It left out little." he said. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned. the school sergeant." "Sting?" "Should think it did. as he read the huge scroll. Rather a good thing." Wyatt was right.right. You wouldn't have if you'd been me." "Thanks. who was walking a little stiffly. I never saw such a man. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain." it began. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off." . They surged round it. I'm glad you got off. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates.

" said Mike." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. Anyhow. rather. I thought you weren't." "Well. Any more? No. He had his day-dreams. But there'll be several vacancies. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled. Don't break down. Let's see. so you're all right. really. what rot!" "It is." "I say. captain of Wrykyn cricket. rather." said Mike.C.C. I don't blame him either. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M." said Mike indignantly. That's next Wednesday. Probably Druce. You'll probably get my place in the team. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot. if it were me. "it's awfully decent of you." "I say." "You don't think there's any chance of it. do you?" said Mike awkwardly. I should think they'd give you a chance." "Oh. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. one of the places." * * * * * Billy Burgess. Adams. was a genial giant. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No. by Jove! I forgot. The present was one of the rare . especially as he's a bowler himself. "Or. whatever his batting was like. So you field like a demon this afternoon. it isn't you. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest."Well. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. "I'm not rotting. you're better off than I am. like everybody else. Wyatt. Ashe." said Mike uncomfortably. making a century in record time). Me. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening." "An extra's nothing much." "I should be awfully sick. buck up. "All right." "You needn't rot." "I'm not breaking down. overcome." continued Wyatt. Still. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. that's the lot. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night." said Wyatt seriously. match. incidentally. if his fielding was something extra special. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. Fielding especially. Burgess is simply mad on fielding.

Dropped a sitter off me to-day. Then he returned to the attack. "Come on. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal." "You haven't got a mind. For a hundred and three. "The fact is. like the soldier in Shakespeare. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply." said Wyatt. and a better field.C. There it is in the corner. "Eight. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man. Dash. shortly before lock-up.C." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. "He's as good a bat as his brother. give me a kiss. he isn't small. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No. and drop you into the river. as Wyatt appeared." "Rot. and let's be friends. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer. I was on the spot. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. jumping at his opportunity." "Why don't you play him against the M. Bill." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end." "Right ho!." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it.C. He's as tall as I am." grumbled Burgess. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack. That's your trouble.. That kid's good.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. match went clean out of my mind. Besides. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute.C. full of strange oaths. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt. I will say that for him. in the excitement of the moment the M. Wyatt found him in his study.. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. And I'd jump on the sack first. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. "I'm awfully sorry." "I suppose he is. I've dropped my stud. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when .

Everything seems hushed and expectant.C. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. So long. For." he said. Frightful gift of the gab you've got. it's a bit risky. "I'll think it over. "You rotter." said Wyatt. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. wouldn't you? Very well. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. just above the W. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. "Think it over. and you rave about top men in the second." Wyatt stopped for breath. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. Jackson. there is a curious. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock. at Lord's." "You play him." Wyatt got up. even Joe. poor kids. and his heart missed a beat." said Wyatt. then. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about. Wyatt. Give him a shot." "Good. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. Burgess. I shall be locked out.C. Better stick to the men at the top of the second. gassing to your grandchildren. "Just give him a trial. chaps who play forward at everything. His own name. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. "All right. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent." he said. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. B. The bell went ages ago. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age. "You know." said Burgess. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M." Burgess hesitated. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for.C. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. He read it. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M. CHAPTER XIII THE M. how you 'discovered' M. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's. better . That kid's a genius at cricket.C. bottom but one.

Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman. I always said it. sir. you'll make a hundred to-day. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. He stopped short. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. and I got one of the places." said Saunders. "Got all the strokes. "Didn't I always say it.. He could almost have cried with pure fright. Saunders!" cried Mike. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment. hopeless feeling left Mike. saw him. Only wants the strength. Master Mike." "Well. Three chaps are in extra. sir. you know. and quite suddenly." "Of course. "Isn't it ripping. Saunders?" "He is. team came down the steps. "Why. and stopped dead." he said. the lost. I'm hanged! Young marvel. Master Mike. Hullo. so that they could walk over together. "By Jove.C." he chuckled. and then they'll have to put you in. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo." Joe took Mike by the shoulder. I'm only playing as a sub. here he is. feeling quite hollow. isn't he." said Saunders." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. Master Joe. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. to wait. Mike walked across from Wain's. Master Mike!" The professional beamed. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the . when the strangeness has worn off.after lunch. where he had changed. "Why. as Saunders had done.C. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily." "Well.

You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. just when things seemed most hopeless. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. relief came. tried to late-cut a rising ball. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. team." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. exhibiting Mike. On the other hand. Burgess was glad as a private individual. At twenty. The M. As a captain. And. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders.w. almost held it a second time. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage." said the other with dignity. You wait till he gets at us to-day. but he contrived to chop it away. . He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence.C. and hoping that nothing would come his way. It was the easiest of slip-catches. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. getting in front of his wicket. You are only ten. conscious of being an uncertain field. and the pair gradually settled down. Bob. for Joe. dropped it. aren't you. "I never saw such a family. Joe began to open his shoulders. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap. "Aged ten last birthday. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success.C. still taking risks. It was a moment too painful for words. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. but he is. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. The wicket was hard and true. "What do you think of this?" said Joe." "This is our star. sorry as a captain. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. was feeling just the same. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. Saunders is our only bowler.C. The beginning of the game was quiet. For himself." "I _have_ won the toss.M.C. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. but Bob fumbled it. and was l. and playing for the school. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. missed it. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. who grinned bashfully. The Authentic. as usual. not to mention the other first-class men.b.

Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. to make the runs. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. A hundred an hour is quick work. After this. Unfortunately." said Burgess. all round the wicket. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. Some years before. total over the three hundred. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. A comfortable. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. Burgess. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. was stumped half-way through the third." he said to Berridge and Marsh. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. third-change bowlers had been put on. and two hundred and fifty. invincible. a little on the slow side. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. the end was very near. there was scarcely time. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. Two hundred went up. "Better have a go for them. Four after four. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. Both batsmen were completely at home. but exceedingly hard to shift. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. on the present occasion. Joe was still in at one end." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . and was then caught by Mike. hit two boundaries. Then came lunch. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. "Lobs. His second hit had just lifted the M. Saunders. Following out this courageous advice. "By Jove. was a thoroughly sound bat. coming in last. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. Berridge.C. The hundred went up at five o'clock. Then Joe reached his century. however. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life.The school revived. the school first pair. the hundred and fifty at half-past. as usual. Runs came with fair regularity. against Ripton.C. things settled down. and the M.C. was optimistic. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. I wish I was in.C. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. but wickets fell at intervals. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. Morris. and was stumped next ball. the first-wicket man.

No good trying for the runs now. In the second. He knew his teeth were chattering. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. . and get the thing over. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary." he added to Mike. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. For a time things went well. "and it's ten past six. and Morris. Bob Jackson went in next. insinuating things in the world. "That's all you've got to do. Lobs are the most dangerous. It was the same story to-day. As a matter of fact. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. Stick in. and a thin. as if he hated to have to do these things. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. The first over yielded six runs. because they had earned it. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. Mike drew courage from his attitude. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. At the wickets. At last he arrived. by a series of disasters. he felt better. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. five wickets were down. three of them victims to the lobs. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. fumbling at a glove. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. He had refused to be tempted. Saunders. Twenty runs were added. He wished he could stop them. tottered out into the sunshine." All!. seemed to give Morris no trouble. Bob. all through gentle taps along the ground. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. It was his turn next. He was jogging on steadily to his century. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance." said Burgess. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. Morris was still in at one end. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. but they were distinctly envious. The long stand was followed. The bowler smiled sadly. as usual. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out.. And that was the end of Marsh. and hit the wicket. and Mike. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease..eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest.

and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball. The next moment the dreams had come true. did not disturb him. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. "To leg." It was Joe. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. and invariably hit a boundary. and. There was only Reeves to follow him. "Play straight. The moment had come. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. he failed signally. sir.. skips and the jump. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. All nervousness had left him. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. He felt equal to the situation. but he himself must simply stay in. besides being conscientious. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. Mike grinned. Sometimes a drive. and you can't get out. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. The bowling became a shade loose.. which he hit to the terrace bank. Half-past six chimed. On the other hand." said a voice. Mike would have liked to have run two. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. the school was shouting. and Saunders. Saunders was beginning his run. Saunders was a conscientious man. and bowled. It was a half-volley. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. Now. Burgess came in. Burgess continued to hit. sometimes a cut. but always a boundary. Even the departure of Morris. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. moment Mike felt himself again. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams.. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. wryly but gratefully. doubtless. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence. . The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. If so. "Don't be in a funk. just the right distance away from the off-stump." said the umpire. it was Mike's first appearance for the school.

"What's wrong with it?" "At present. against the Gentlemen of the County. He hit out. the visiting team. They might mean anything from "Well. so you may as well have the thing now. Down on it again in the old familiar way." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. First one was given one's third eleven cap. and mid-off. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap." said Burgess." said the wicket-keeper. as has been pointed out.The lob bowler had taken himself off. just failed to reach it. fast left-hand." said Wyatt. however gentlemanly." But Burgess. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper. naturally. All was well. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. That meant. Five: another yorker. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. * * * * * So Wilkins. Four: beat him. this may not seem an excessive reward. "He's not bad. It hummed over his head. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. were not brilliant cricketers. You won't get any higher. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. match. Joe." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. who had played twice for the first eleven. "nothing. here you are.C." Then came the second colours. to Burgess after the match. and we have our eye on you. and Mike got his place in the next match. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. "I told you so. almost at a venture. "I'm sorry about your nose. at any rate as far . But it was all that he expected. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. Mike played it back to the bowler. dropped down into the second. jumping. "I'll give him another shot. Unfortunately for him. Number two: yorker. of the School House. "You are a promising man. at the last ball." Mike was a certainty now for the second. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. Mike let it alone.C." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. as many a good man had done before him. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. and missed the wicket by an inch.

Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. did better in this match. See? That's all. was captain of the side. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side.as bowling was concerned. match." Mike departed. "Well. mind you don't go getting swelled head. made a fuss. hit one in the direction of cover-point. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. For some ten minutes all was peace. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. and Marsh all passing the half-century. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. as the star. and Berridge. to the detriment of Mike's character. he waxed fat and kicked. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd." he said. "Come on. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. of the third eleven. It happened in this way. The school won the toss. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. but Firby-Smith. this score did not show up excessively. making twenty-five. eh? Well. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. Morris making another placid century. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon. and. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. _verbatim_. as head of the house. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. bursting with fury.C. went in first. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. not out. He was enjoying life amazingly. Raikes possessed few subtleties. when the Gazeka. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. . We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. Run along. The following. having the most tender affection for his dignity. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. Mike went in first wicket. and was thoroughly set. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick." he shouted.C. He had made seventeen. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. Bob. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. House matches had begun. prancing down the pitch. with Raikes. Then Wain's opened their innings. To one who had been brought up on Saunders. supported by some small change. Ellerby. and was then caught at cover. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. Mike pounded it vigorously. The Gazeka. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. and he and Wyatt went in first. who had the bowling.

The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. "Don't _laugh_." . Burgess. "You know young Jackson in our house. miss it. the wicket-keeper removed the bails." he said. The world swam before Mike's eyes. you know. chewing the insult." he said reprovingly." he said. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. besides being captain of the eleven. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. "Rather a large order. Burgess. you grinning ape!" he cried. "What's up?" said Burgess. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. At close of play he sought Burgess." Burgess looked incredulous. cover having thrown the ball in. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. avoided him. shouting "Run!" and. "Easy run there. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. And Mike.Mike. a man of simple speech. And only a prefects' meeting. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. feeling now a little apprehensive. was also head of the school. Firby-Smith did not grovel. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. These are solemn moments. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees. he was also sensitive on the subject. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. a prefects' meeting. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. thought Firby-Smith. "I want to speak to you. Firby-Smith arrived. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. and lick him. "It isn't funny.

had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. look here. but turned the laugh into a cough. And here was another grievance against fate. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. It became necessary. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. . He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. therefore. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. match. He thought he would talk it over with somebody." said Firby-Smith. "Rather thick.C. Geddington. I'll think it over. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. Bob occurred to him. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well." And the matter was left temporarily at that. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. Bob was one of his best friends. Still. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. and let you know to-morrow. well--Well.C." "He's frightfully conceited." he said meditatively. as the nearest of kin. were strong this year at batting." "Oh. I mean--A prefects' meeting. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. the results of the last few matches. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details. with the air of one uttering an epigram. anyhow. Burgess started to laugh. Here was he. In the second place. "Well. he's a decent kid. On the other hand. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team. Besides. "Yes. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. but he thought the thing over. In the first place. and particularly the M. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. It was only fair that Bob should be told.

At batting there was not much to choose between the two. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. you can. look here. It's rather hard to see what to do." "I suppose so. but in fielding there was a great deal. sitting over here. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened. but he _is_ an ass. the man. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school.' Billy. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather." said Bob. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though." he said. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. You know how to put a thing nicely. thanks." he added. I say. Bob?" he asked." "It's awfully awkward. "Still----" "I know. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. "Busy." . "Silly young idiot. the captain. I sympathise with the kid. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess." "Well. He came to me frothing with rage. The tall. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk. Bob. Bob was bad. So out Bob had gone." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time. I want to see you. handsome chap. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. "Hullo. you know. "Personally. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up." suggested Burgess. "Still. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study. Have some?" "No." continued Burgess gloomily. dark. "Take a pew. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. one's bound to support him. took his place.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. "Sickening thing being run out. and Neville-Smith. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely. can't you? This is me. Mike was good.

" emended the aggrieved party. But he recovered himself. aren't you? Well. By now he'll have simmered down a bit. too." said Bob. "I didn't think of you. is there? I mean. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. "I thought you hadn't." said Bob. "Well. made him waver. I know. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing. "You see it now. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith. "I say. you know. you know. nothing--I mean. Bob. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. You know. I don't know." . Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. He wants kicking. not much of a catch for me." It was a difficult moment for Bob. Seeing Bob. One cannot help one's thoughts." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this. go and ask him to drop the business. though." he said. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. apart from everything else. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. I tell you what. would it be. He had a great admiration for Bob. Not much good lugging the prefects into it."Awful rot. I'm a prefect. "Look here. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. he became all animation. "Burgess was telling me." he said. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. having to sit there and look on. you're a pal of his. you're not a bad sort. Look here. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now. You must play the the old Gazeka over. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. "Yes?" "Oh. "I that sort. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects. He gets right way." he said. "I wanted to see you." he said. "Don't do that. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out.

Curiously enough. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. I think if I saw him and cursed him. I did run him out. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. he. and went to find Mike. He was a punctured balloon. Reflection. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. he felt grateful to Bob. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. fourteen years of age. really. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house. and Burton felt revengeful. Mike." said Burton. He wished he could find some way of repaying him. there's that. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. so subdued was his fighting spirit. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right." said Bob. of course. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. . of Donaldson's. he gave him to understand." and Bob waving them back. it was frightful cheek. and owed him many grudges. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. Firby-Smith." "Of course it was. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him."Well. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed." "Thanks. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. without interest. "I'm specially glad for one reason. most of all. you know. And. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. in the course of his address. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. and the offensively forgiving. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton." said Mike. Mike's all right. though without success. Still. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. He was not inclined to be critical. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. But for Bob. and unburdened his soul to him. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter." "Yes. "I say." "Thanks. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question." "No. All right then. After all." "What's that?" inquired Mike.

"Come in!" yelled the captain." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest." "Good-night. though. and gradually made up his mind."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. so that Burton. Be all right. retiring hurriedly. anyway." "Thanks. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. Burgess. He tapped with his right hand. just before lock-up. We wanted your batting." And Burgess. weighing this remark. Not once or twice. for his left was in a sling. as it were. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. CHAPTER XVI . in a day or two. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule. but several times." "Hope so." said Mike. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door. some taint. rather. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. and his decision remained unaltered. He thought the thing over more fully during school. He'd have been playing but for you. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. Beastly bad luck. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. On the evening before the Geddington match. that's bad luck." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him. He kicked Burton. I suppose?" "Oh. They were _all_ beasts. Good-night. too.54 next morning. * * * * * Mike walked on. yes. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much." "I say." said Mike stolidly. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8.

There's a second match on. Mike? I want to see a match. "School playing anybody to-day. Now. Be all right by Monday. what shall we do." "Hurt?" "Not much." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect. I'll have a look later on. after an adventurous career. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house. Still. It's nothing much. at the request of Mike's mother." "Doctor seen it?" "No. and. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. "It isn't anything. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. But it's really nothing." "Why aren't you--Hullo. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. I think I should like to see the place first. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another. really. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. I didn't see. and.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. Somebody ought to look at it." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket. Only it's away. It doesn't matter a bit." "Never mind. He had thereupon left the service. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again." "They're playing Geddington. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit." "I could manage about that. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. mainly in Afghanistan. Uncle John. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. . Coming south. thanks. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth." "H'm. His telegram arrived during morning school.

The fellow at the other end is Wilkins." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. I didn't know that. But I wish I . No wonder you're feeling badly treated. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob. if he does well against Geddington. He's in the School House. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler." "Rather awkward. but I thought that was only as a substitute. but he choked the feeling down. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school." "Still. Neville-Smith. Mike. "That's Trevor. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago. They look as if they were getting set. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. I see. as Trevor. "Ah yes. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit. I was playing for the first." said Mike." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. What bad luck. I've got plenty of time. There are only three vacancies. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this." he said enviously. A sudden. and they passed on to the cricket field. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business." "For the first? For the school! My word. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No." two or three times in an absent voice. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. Of course. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty." Uncle John detected the envious note. it was this Saturday. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. The thing was done. and done well. I should think. Then there'll be only the last place left. by George!" remarked Uncle John. By Jove. It was a glorious day. "Chap in Donaldson's. it's Bob's last year. and better do it as soon as possible. Very nice. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school. that. they'll probably keep him in. "If he does well to-day." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded.Got to be done. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven.

" Uncle John looked over his shoulder. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games." said Mike. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches. "Put the rope over that stump. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested. "That hurt?" he asked. The telegram read. "Ye--no. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things." After they had watched the match for an hour. He could hear nothing but his own breathing. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds. then gave it a little twist. I badly want a pipe. caught a crab. "That willow's what you want." "Pull your left." stammered Mike. Mike was crimson. and sighed contentedly. and we'll put in there." "Rotten trick for a boy. "It's really nothing. The next piece of shade that you see. Lunch. "Let's just call at the shop. let me--Done it? Good. I wonder how Bob's got on. Uncle John looked up sharply. Can you manage with one hand? Here. They got up." said Mike. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting. unskilful stroke.could get in this year." said Uncle John. Which reminds me. Mike?" "No. recovered himself." said Mike. but his uncle had already removed the sling." "Not bad that. . "But I believe they're weak in bowling. When you get to my age you need it." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes. "Geddington 151 for four." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage. Let's have a look at the wrist." he began. "The worst of a school. sing out. as he pulled up-stream with strong. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. "I hope you don't smoke.

on." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point.." When in doubt. There was an exam.) "Swear you won't tell him. Lock-up's at half-past. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday." "I ought to be getting back soon. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. I won't give you away. well.." Uncle John was silent. would they give him his cap? Supposing. "I know. I think. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. really. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes. Look here. let his mind wander to Geddington. so I thought I might as well let him. (This.. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington." "I won't tell him. "Jove. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. Mike told it. Mike said nothing. and his uncle sat up. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first." . dash it all then. It had struck him as neat and plausible. while Mike. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. gaping." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. where his fate was even now being sealed. one may as well tell the truth. That's how it was."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. It wasn't that. "May as well tell me. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. I was nearly asleep. Only----" "Well?" "Oh. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations. swear you won't tell him. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew.

Uncle John felt in his pocket."Up with the anchor. Jackson 48). better." Mike worked his way back through the throng. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. I wanted to go to sleep. It was the only possible reply. "Bob made forty-eight. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. I should think. It was a longer message this time. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand. Mike pushed his way through the crowd. Neville-Smith four). . I'm going to shove her off. and rejoined his uncle. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first. as they reached the school gates. "It was simply baking at Geddington. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. eh? We are not observed. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. "We won. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets. I'm done. CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night. "Well?" said Uncle John. How's your wrist?" "Oh." "There'll be another telegram. thanks. and they ragged the whole time. "By Jove." Wyatt began to undress. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat." he said. Marsh 58." said Mike. Don't fall overboard. then. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. only they wouldn't let me." He paused for a moment." he added carelessly.

Their umpire. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. If he dwelt on it." "Most captains would have done. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. With great guile he had fed this late cut. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. off Billy. had come to much the same conclusion. Beastly man to bowl to. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. He was very fond of Bob. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. though. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. I was in at the other end. Bit of luck for Bob. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. Soothed by these memories. he fell asleep. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. And. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. A bit lucky." Burgess. He let their best man off twice in one over. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. Chap had a go at it. Only one or two thirds. too. No first." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. to-day. Just lost them the match. reviewing the match that night. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him."No. he felt. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. with watercress round it. when he does give a couple of easy chances. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. he would get insomnia. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. Bob puts them both on the floor. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. Never saw a clearer case in my life. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. can't remember who. Ripping innings bar those two chances. and another chap. as he lay awake in his cubicle. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . Jenkins and Clephane." "Why.

of Seymour's." Bob was all remorse. as he stood regarding the game from afar." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. About your fielding." "Well. I believe I should do better in the deep. and hoped for the day. Bob. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. I know that if a catch does come. Both of them were. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now." "I know. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second.chance of reforming. "It's those beastly slip catches. As for Mike. I'm certain the deep would be much better. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. Try it. This did not affect the bulk of the school. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners." The conversation turned to less pressing topics. I can't time them. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. Bob. I shall miss it. It's simply awful. he played for the second. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference." "Do you know. accordingly. but I mean. "Look here. Bob figured on the boundary. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds." "All right then. I could get time to watch them there. Trevor'll hit me up catches. found his self-confidence returning slowly. I'm frightfully sorry. * * * * * In the next two matches. I hate the slips. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the ." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. drop by drop. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. I'll practise like mad.

his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. In brief. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. He had occasional headaches. disappeared from Society. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). He tried out of doors. the son of the house. too. Upstairs. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. at the same moment. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. Where were his drives now. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. for chicken-pox. The next victim was Marsh. He made his way there. and thought of Life. entering the High Street furtively. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. of the first eleven. what was more important. Shoeblossom. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. and also. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep.Quiet Student. Essentially a man of moods. but people threw cushions at him. On the Tuesday afternoon. peace. He. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. G. and at the bottom of the heap. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. was called for. where he read _Punch_. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. sucked oranges. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. and returned to the school. would be Shoeblossom. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. He tried the junior day-room. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. Two days later Barry felt queer. however necessary such an action might seem to him. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. The professional advice of Dr. Marsh. Shoeblossom came away. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. Oakes. the school doctor. and. and in the dingy back shop. who was top of the school averages. he was attending J. squealing louder than any two others.

Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. Too old now. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. they failed miserably. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. I've got the taste in my mouth still. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. three years ago." . and Mike kept his end up. for no apparent reason. The weather may have had something to do with it. when Wain's won the footer cup. Got through a slice. did anything to distinguish himself. But on this particular day. for Neville-Smith. for rain fell early in the morning. The total was a hundred and seven. made a dozen. Have to look after my digestion. going in fourth wicket. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. too. and the Incogniti. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. They had only been beaten once. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. and after that the rout began. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. "Well. His food ran out. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. All sorts of luxuries. Some schools do it in nearly every match. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. and ate that. and was not out eleven. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. doubled this. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. bar the servants.elect. but nobody except Wyatt. and the school. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. And I can square them. and I'm alone. Bob. batting first on the drying wicket. I remember. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. batting when the wicket was easier.

I can't say more than that. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. was more at his ease. making desultory conversation the while. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. and sat down. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly." continued Bob. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. passed him the bread." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period. He's bound to get in next year." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's." "You were all right. We've all been at Wrykyn. Still. Beastly awkward. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. I don't know." Mike stared." "Oh. of course." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. But young Mike's all over him as a bat. Why? What about?" . one wants the best man. though. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam. Mike. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. being older." "You get on much better in the deep. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this. "Not seen much of each other lately."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. When he had finished. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter." "Bit better. Pity to spoil the record. "because it is. he poured Mike out a cup. yes. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. He got tea ready. of course. Bob. he would just do it.

now." It was the custom at Wrykyn. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything." Mike looked at the floor. "Thanks. I'm jolly glad it's you.. of course. '_I_ think M. of course.'s like a sounding-board. wiping the sweat off his forehead. I fancy you've won. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped. what I wanted to see you about was this. awfully. just now. 'That's just what I think. sir?' Spence said. and so on. in the First room. I waited a bit to give them a good start." muttered Mike. rot. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle. I'll give you my opinion. And so home.' 'Yes. After all. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. ." said Mike. and now he had achieved it. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this."Well. he's cricket-master. It had been his one ambition. 'Decidedly M. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. 'I don't know what to do.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. but don't feel bound to act on it. and then sheered off myself. I'm simply saying what I think. So Mike edged out of the room. and in a year or two. and I picked it up and started reading it. Well. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled.' said Spence. I've a sort of idea our little race is over.' said old Bill. I heard every word. there'll be no comparison. "Well. "Not at all. It's the fortune of war. What do you think. Burgess. Billy said." resumed Bob. Spence said. and tore across to Wain's. He's a shade better than R. Congratulate you. to shake his hand. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. There was nothing much to _be_ said. 'Well. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. The pav. sir. I was in the pav. and that's what he's there for. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. Bob. 'It's rough on Bob. but.'" "Oh. sir. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. don't let's go to the other extreme. Billy agreed with him. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. They shook hands. I couldn't help hearing what they said. He was sorry for Bob. on the other hand. They thought the place was empty.' he said. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. 'Well." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. and said nothing. As it isn't me.

"All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels. . This was to the good. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. Mike could tell nobody. It wouldn't do. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets. dash it. even on a summer morning. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. As he passed it. and a little more. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board." said Mike. he found that it was five minutes past six. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. He took his quarter of an hour. orders were orders. He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. Until he returned. he felt. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. a prospect that appealed to him. F. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one.30 to-morrow morning. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. The only possible confidant was Wyatt. therefore. as it always does." "Oh. and this silent alarm proved effective. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team.--W. It would have to be done. And Wyatt was at Bisley. Reaching out a hand for his watch. was not.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time.-S. Still.

Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. inconvenienced--in short. Firby-Smith straightened his tie. looking at him.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. And outside in the cricket-field. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. Who _was_ he. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. The painful interview took place after breakfast." he said. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. and waited. by the way. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. and jolly quick. would be bad enough. Now he began to waver. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. But not a chap who. he said to himself. he asked himself. Was this right. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. Mike thought he would take another minute. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. It was time. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. being ordered about. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. Make the rest of the team fag about. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. in coming to his den. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. One simply lies there. One knows that delay means inconvenience. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. "look here. I want to know what it all means. "Young Jackson. he felt. One would have felt. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. and glared. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. yes. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. dash it all. Here was he. But logic is of no use. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. that Mike. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. Didn't you see the notice?" .

this. young man. Awfully embarrassing.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice." said Mike. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. as you please. "Then you frightful kid. and I'm captain of it. I've had my eye on you for some time. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated." "I don't. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. The point is that you're one of the house team. and I've seen it coming on. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. "Six!" "Five past. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first. did you? Well. Happy thought: over-slept himself. You've got swelled head. You think the place belongs to you." "Oh. Just because you've got your second." said the Gazeka shrilly. just listen to me. That's got nothing to do with it. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. "Do--you--see. See?" Mike said nothing. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. Frightful swelled head. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary. you went to sleep again. but he rather fancied not. you think you can do what you like. "Yes. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. It was not according to his complicated." said Mike indignantly. He mentioned this. you do. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment. The rather large grain of truth in what . His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. turn up or not. That's what you've got.

full of the true. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. and stared at a photograph on the wall. Zam-buk's what you want. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. Wyatt came back. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. but cheerful. Wyatt was worn out. He set his teeth. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. Very heady." . "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. Always at it. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. Failing that. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. and his feelings were hurt. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. If it's a broken heart. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. "That's the cats. "Do you see?" he asked again. A-ah!" He put down the glass. Mike's jaw set more tightly. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. "Oh. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. for a beaker full of the warm south. water will do. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. Well. "What's your trouble?" he asked. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. What one really wants here is a row of stars. and surveyed Mike. and I suppose it always will be. as he had nearly done once before. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar." He left the dormitory. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. brandishing a jug of water and a glass." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two." he said. I didn't hit the bull every time. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. I'll go down and look. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more.

"Such body. blood as you are at cricket. 'Talking of side. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. 'Jackson. and." "I mean. Otherwise. He winked in a friendly way. I don't know. and say. The speaker then paused. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. that 'ere is. I defy any one to." "In passing. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture." "Why?" "I don't know. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it. That's discipline." "I like you jawing about discipline. really. If he's captain. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed. did he buttonhole you on your way to school. a word in your ear. "And why. There are some things you simply can't do. You stick on side. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were ." "No. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug." said Mike morosely. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. while I get dropped on if I break out. "Nothing like this old '87 water. It's too early in the morning. my gentle che-ild. silent natures. "I say." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding." he said. you've got to obey him. drew a deep breath."He said I stuck on side. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator. Cheers from the audience. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. putting down the jug. and. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in. you'll have a rotten time here." "What! Why?" "Oh. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it. you stick it on. but. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep." "I didn't turn up. look here.

and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. young Jackson. If Wyatt. rather." he concluded modestly. having beaten Ripton. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. the other you mustn't ever break. if possible. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. Haileybury. cheerful disregard of. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. Harrow. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. His feelings were curiously mixed. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. Paul's are a third. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. In this way. When you're a white-haired old man like me. I don't know why." Mike made no reply. for the first time in his life. Dulwich. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. really meant. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. Until you learn that. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. I thank you. "me. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. or Wrykyn. . This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. Ripton. There was no actual championship competition. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. About my breaking out. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. Wrykyn. and Wilborough formed a group. That was the match with Ripton. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. He would have perished rather than admit it. But this did not happen often. before the Ripton match. but it isn't done. would go down before Wilborough. but each played each. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. Eton. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. but it generally did. and St. That night. Tonbridge. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. most forms of law and order. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. as far as games are concerned. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most.saying--just so. or. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. Geddington. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. of which so much is talked and written.

As it was. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. he postponed the thing. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. there was a week before the match. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. "Well held." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. He could write it after tea. he would have kept Bob In. and Mr. but he was steady. But. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. the sorrier he was for him. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. One gave him no trouble. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. "Pleasure is pleasure. And. Finally he had consulted Mr. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money." said Burgess. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. In case of accident. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. feeling that life was good. The report was more than favourable. and held it. With him at short slip. After all. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. Bob got to it with one hand. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster.Burgess. and sprint. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. From small causes great events do spring. as the poet has it. and he hated to have to do it. engrossed in his book. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession. and he had done well in the earlier matches. It was a difficult catch." "Banzai!" said Burgess. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. There were two vacancies. and biz is biz. If he could have pleased himself. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. The more he thought of it. . He had fairly earned his place. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. * * * * * When school was over. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. accordingly. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. Spence. Spence had voted for Mike. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday.

That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. it may be mentioned." said the Gazeka. Burgess passed on. "You're hot stuff in the deep." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it." "Good." he explained." "The frightful kid cut it this morning. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house."Hullo. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. Firby-Smith." "Oh." said Bob awkwardly. "What's up?" inquired Burgess." "I've just been to the Infirmary. his mind full of Bob once more. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. towards the end of the evening. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. It was decidedly a blow. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding." "Easy when you're only practising. "I couldn't get both hands to it. as who should say. of course. What hard luck it was! There was he. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. did not enter his mind. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. He suppressed his personal feelings." said Bob. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. He was glad for the sake of the school. and so he proceeded to tell . It was the cricket captain who. "This way for Iron Wills. on being told of Mike's slackness. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. and became the cricket captain again. He'll be able to play on Saturday. in fact. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. That Burgess would feel. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land. but it's all right. do you mean? Oh. nothing. "Young Jackson. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. and all the time the team was filled up. There are many kinds of walk." There was. but one has one's personal ambitions.

Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. Bob. "Congratulate you. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school.it in detail. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . "Congratulate you. Bob. therefore. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. Trevor came out of the block. There was no possibility of mistake. Bob stared after him. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. Mike scarcely heard him. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. that looked less like an M. "Hard luck!" said somebody. than the one on that list. As he stared. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. as he was rather late. and passed on. there had never been an R. Since writing was invented. going out. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. Bob had beaten him on the tape. * * * * * When. met Bob coming in. hurrying. He looked at the paper." he said. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list.

and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school." said Mike. There was a short silence. "Congratulate you. This was no place for him. Mike. it's jolly rummy. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument. next year seems a very. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease. "Jolly glad you've got it. came down the steps. neither speaking. Go and look. Here it is. "Got a letter from mother this morning. with equal awkwardness. No reason why he shouldn't." "Well. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's." said Bob. you'll have three years in the first. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears." "Thanks. as the post was late. Just then. It'll be something to do during Math." "Hope so. if you want to read it. They moved slowly through the cloisters. You've got your first. Not much in it." "No. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike. Bob. Trevor moved on." . "Thanks awfully. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews." he said awkwardly. delicately. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. You're a cert. "I believe there's a mistake." "My--what? you're rotting. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. I showed you the last one. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin."Seen what?" "Why the list. feeling very ill. very long way off. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation. When one has missed one's colours. Bob snatched gladly at the subject." The thing seemed incredible." Bob endeavoured to find consolation." said Mike. I'm not. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. and Burgess agree with him. "Anyhow. for next year.

seeing Mike. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it. As they went out on the gravel. The disappointment was still there. I'll show it you outside." "Why not here?" "Come on. These things are like kicks on the shin. there appeared on his face a worried." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. Mike heard the words "English Essay. Bob appeared curiously agitated. as it were. "What's up?" asked Mike. seeing that the conversation was ." said Mike amiably. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. and. Haven't had time to look at it yet." he said. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. sitting up and taking nourishment. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. that." Mike resented the tone. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate." and. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. "Hullo. I'll give it you in the interval. He seemed to have something on his mind. but followed. "Got that letter?" "Yes. When they had left the crowd behind." "No. too. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. Mike was. for the first time in her life. and which in time disappears altogether. A brief spell of agony. it's for me all right. but it was lessened. and Mike noticed. he stopped. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter." "After you. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. and went up to the headmaster."Marjory wrote. somebody congratulated Bob again. with some surprise. He looked round. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. even an irritated look. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it. "Read that.

-"I hope you are quite well. Reggie made a duck. I am quite well. Why don't you do that? "M. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire. and ceased to wonder.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. She was jolly sick about it.P. with a style of her own. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. and display it to the best advantage. under the desk. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. Well. He read it during school." There followed a P." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. "P. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. and it's _the_ match of the season. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter.S. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. I told her it served her right. Phyllis has a cold.apparently going to be one of some length. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. Bob had had cause to look worried. and let it take its chance with the other news-items.S. but usually she entertained rather than upset people. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. it will be all through Mike. lead up to it. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him. capped the headmaster and walked off.--This has been a frightful fag to write. She was a breezy correspondent. it . Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. Have you got your first? If you have. He put the missive in his pocket.

I don't know. is it all rot. and Burgess was not likely to alter it." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. Bob couldn't do much. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out. Still. They met at the nets. He came down when you were away at Geddington. So it came out. I couldn't choke him off. "Well?" said Bob." he broke off hotly. The team was filled up. you did _me_ a jolly good turn." he said at last. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was. Marjory meant well.. If he was going to let out things like that. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes." Bob stared gloomily at his toes. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh. it was beastly awkward. "I know I ought to be grateful. and all that. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter." "I didn't think you'd ever know." said Mike. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way. and would insist on having a look at my arm. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot.. but she had put her foot right in it. You know.. "I mean. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it." . that's how it was. I suppose I am. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. "I did. "Did you read it?" "Yes." "Well. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all. "Of course. "How do you mean?" said Mike. he might at least have whispered them. Besides. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him.

admitting himself beaten. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny. and it grew so rapidly that. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair. it's all over now. but it never does any good. anyhow. simply to think no more about them. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave." "I'm hanged if it is. Others try to grapple with them. "Well. sixty feet from the ground. and slides out of such situations." Mike said. "Besides. When affairs get into a real tangle." He sidled off. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something." Which he did. I decide to remain here. Or. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. This is Philosophy. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. Half a second. but. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. The sensible man realises this. "I must see Burgess about it. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. He looked helplessly at Mike. "Well. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. finding this impossible. when he awoke. "I shall get in next year all right. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. if one does not do that. "Anyhow. well." he said. and happened to doze. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right. he altered his plans."I don't remember. but the air was splendid and the view excellent. He thought he would go home. and had a not unpleasant time. ." added Mike. who sat down on an acorn one day. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate." "What about it?" "Well. When?" "That Firby-Smith business." "Oh." said Bob to himself.

At which period he remarked a rum business. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. "But I must do something. It would not be in the picture. of course. consulted on the point. You simply keep on saying you're all right. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. It's me. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. I could easily fake up some excuse. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. "I suppose you can't very well." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. seeing that the point is." "I do. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. but why should you do anything? You're all right. confessed to the same to solve the problem. and took the line of least resistance. and here you _are_. at the moment. though." Bob agreed. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head. after Mike's fashion. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. have to be carried through stealthily. if they are to be done at school. I don't know if it's occurred to you. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher." said Bob. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. now it's up. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. "Still. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. in council.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. might find some way of making things right for everybody. Bob should have done so. like the man in the oak-tree. Besides. It's not your fault. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. Tell you what. Imitate this man. if possible. Very sporting of your brother and all that." . but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. what you say doesn't help us out much. Though. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. And Burgess. These things. in it. He would have done a good deal to put matters right.

" said Bob." "Well." "He isn't so keen. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it." "Mind the step. So long. As the distance between them lessened. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board. and then the top of your head'll come off. that's why you've got your first instead of him." "Oh. You sweated away. all right. Wyatt. Not that you did. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets. but a slack field wants skinning. He's a young slacker. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge. but supposing you had. A bad field's bad enough. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant . At any rate. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his. expansive grin." said Burgess. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say. if you don't look out. So you see how it is. If you really want to know. I've got my first. whatever happens." "Smith oughtn't to have told you." "I'll tell you what you look like. thanks for reminding me." "I don't care.." said Neville-Smith. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face. "Thanks." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. That slight smile of yours will meet behind. so out he went. as the Greek exercise books say. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. I feel like--I don't know what. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind. if that's any good to you. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything." "Anyhow. he did tell me. with a brilliant display of front teeth."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time.

I shall manage it. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. After all." "Said it wasn't good enough.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do.to have at home in honour of my getting my first. Still. Heave a pebble at it. and I'll come down. They all funked it. if I did." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people. And Beverley. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders." "But one or two day-boys are coming. All the servants'll have gone to bed." "No. which I have--well. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. nor iron bars a cage." "You _will_ turn up. for one. It's just above the porch." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make. I needn't throw a brick." "Yes. It'll be the only one lighted up. anyhow it's to-night. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me." "The school is going to the dogs. You'll see the window of my room. a sudden compunction seized upon ." As Wyatt was turning away." "So will the glass--with a run. can't you?" "Delighted. I'll try to do as little damage as possible. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep. I get on very well. I expect." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way. Still. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one." "They ought to allow you a latch-key." "The race is degenerating." "Good man. I'm going to get the things now. We shall have rather a rag. Make it a bit earlier. eleven'll do me all right. Anything for a free feed in these hard times. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough. Clephane is. You can roll up. for goodness sake. if you like.

and the wall by the . All you have to do is to open the window and step out. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row.Neville-Smith. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. "but this is the maddest. "What's up?" he asked. though." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. APPLEBY "You may not know it. I've used all mine. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. but he did not state his view of the case. you don't think it's too risky. Still. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night. getting back. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. He called him back. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence. I should have gone out anyhow to-night." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. Rather tricky work. Ginger-beer will flow like water. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp." "Oh. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. that's all right. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. If so." "Don't go getting caught." said Wyatt. you always are breaking out at night." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. "Don't you worry about me. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached. "I say. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. merriest day of all the glad New Year. do you? I mean. I've got to climb two garden walls." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse. No expense has been spared. They've no thought for people's convenience here." "I shall do my little best not to be. we must make the best of things. I don't know if he keeps a dog. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place.

that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. and was in the lane within a minute. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. "What a night!" he said to himself. and let himself out of the back door. Then he decided on the latter. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. This was the route which he took to-night. Appleby. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. Appleby. dusted his trousers. It was a glorious July night. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. but the room had got hot and stuffy. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. for instance. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay.potting-shed was a feline club-house. He was in plenty of time. whatever you did to it. Why not. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. and get a decent show for one's money in . and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. There was a full moon. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. sniffing as he walked. He was fond of his garden. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. The window of his study was open. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. ran lightly across it. From here he could see the long garden. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. true. Much better have flowers. Crossing this. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. There he paused. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. which had suffered on the two walls. it is true. he climbed another wall. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. the master who had the house next to Mr. Wain's. At present there remained much to be done. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. They were all dark.

. close his eyes or look the other way. Sentiment. he would have done so. The surprise. bade him forget the episode. As he dropped into the lane. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. Mr. and indirectly. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. and. He went his way openly. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. but he may use his discretion. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. without blame. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. wondering how he should act. He receives a salary for doing this duty. Appleby had left his chair. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. treat it as if it had never happened. and rose to his feet. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. It was on another plane. to the parents. He always played the game. with the aid of the moonlight. As far as he could see. With a sigh of relief Mr. the extent of the damage done. it was not serious. on hands and knees.summer at any rate. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. liked and respected by boys and masters. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. through the headmaster. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. and remember that he is in a position of trust. he had recognised him. Appleby. of course. Appleby that first awoke to action. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. however. was a different thing altogether. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. He paused. examining. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. Breaking out at night. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. Appleby. It was not an easy question. He knew that there were times when a master might.

This was the conclusion to which Mr. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. like a sea-beast among rocks. . The blind shot up." began Mr. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. Mr. only it's something important. Appleby. and squeezed through into the room. Appleby. in the middle of which stood Mr. greatly to Mr. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window." And. if you don't mind. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. Mr. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border. He could not let the matter rest where it was. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. He turned down his lamp. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. but they would have to wait. I'll climb in through here. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. He tapped on the window. I'm afraid. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. "I'll smoke. Wain?" he said." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. Wain. Wain. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. "Can I have a word with you. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. Mr. About Wyatt." "Sorry. shall I? No need to unlock the door. and walked round to Wain's. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped." Mr. Exceedingly so. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree." said Mr. The thing still rankled. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. Appleby came over his relighted pipe.

You are quite right. Why." "I will. "I ought to report it to the headmaster." Mr. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory." "There is certainly something in what you say. Appleby. You can deal with the thing directly. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. then. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster." "So was I. this is most extraordinary. "A good deal. Sorry to have disturbed you." "He's not there now. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all. Got a pile of examination papers to look over." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred. He would have no choice. You are not going?" "Must. Exceedingly so." said Mr." "Bars can be removed. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents. Appleby. a little nettled. He was wondering what would happen."James! In your garden! Impossible." Mr. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence. "Let's leave it at that. He hoped . and. Appleby. "What shall I do?" Mr. Appleby. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. It's like daylight out of doors. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled. Yes. He had taken the only possible course." said Mr." "I don't see why. It isn't like an ordinary case. Good-night. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. I am astonished. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. and have it out with him. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster. Appleby offered no suggestion. That is certainly the course I should pursue. That is a very good idea of yours. Tackle the boy when he comes in. sit down." "You astound me." "Possibly." "No. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. Wain on reflection. You're the parent. If you come to think of it." "You must have been mistaken. Dear me." "Good-night.

Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. therefore. and waited there in the semi-darkness. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. Appleby had been right. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. he felt. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. so much as an exasperated. and then consider the episode closed. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say.they would not. He grunted. It was not all roses.. and nothing else. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. He took a candle. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. If further proof had been needed. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. least of all in those many years younger than himself. broken by various small encounters.. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. Wyatt he had regarded.. Lately. he would hardly have returned yet. The light of the candle fell on both beds. one of the bars was missing from the window. was the last straw. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. Mr. He had been working hard. thinking. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. as a complete nuisance. it was true. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. asleep. He blew the candle out. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. If he had gone out. It would be a thousand pities. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. . the life of an assistant master at a public school. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. pondering over the news he had heard. Mike was there.. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. if he were to be expelled. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. by silent but mutual agreement. This breaking-out. Mr. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. It was not. He liked Wyatt. But the other bed was empty.. The moon shone in through the empty space. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily.. and walked quietly upstairs. a sorrowful. Mr. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. and the night was warm. he reflected wrathfully.

which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. Mr. as the house-master shifted his position. is that you. Wain relit his candle. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. and the letter should go by the first post next day. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. The time had come to put an end to it. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. Wyatt dusted his knees.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. father!" he said pleasantly. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. but could hear nothing. Mike saw him start. His voice sounded ominously hollow. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. Wyatt should not be expelled. But he should leave. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. "Hullo!" said Mike. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. At that moment Mr. "Go to sleep. "James!" said Mr. He lay down again without a word. There was literally no way out. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. and rubbed his hands together. Then he seemed to recover himself." snapped the house-master. asking them to receive his step-son at once. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. . immediately. "Hullo. Jackson. Wain. and that immediately. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat.

how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot. Wyatt!" said Mike. To Mike. "That reminds me. lying in bed. "Yes. Mike began to get alarmed. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. Exceedingly astonished. "You have been out. my little Hyacinth. He flung himself down on his bed. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds." He left the room. Suppose I'd better go down. Speaking at a venture. I shall be sorry to part with you." "Yes. "But.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. really. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. it's awful. rolling with laughter. speaking with difficulty. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. About an hour. I say. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly. "I say.' We . Wain spoke." said Wyatt. "I shall talk to you in my study. Me sweating to get in quietly. now. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. Follow me there." said Wyatt. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. The swift and sudden boot. I say. sir. do you think?" "Ah. holding his breath. it seemed a long silence. what!" "But. Then Mr. "I am astonished. I suppose." "What'll he do. sir." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. "It's all right." "I got a bit of a start myself." said Wyatt at last.

" "Not likely. Wyatt sat down. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_." * * * * * In the study Mr. sir. "Exceedingly. at that hour?" "I went for a walk. "Sit down. choking sob. then. 'tis well! Lead on. and began to tap the table. "Well?" "I haven't one.shall meet at Philippi." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. sir. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. minions." "The fact is----" said Wyatt. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. I suppose I'd better go down. Don't go to sleep." "And." Mr. sir. Well. Wain jumped nervously." "What?" "Yes." "What were you doing out of your dormitory. That'll be me." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . sir. James?" Wyatt said nothing." explained Wyatt. I follow." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. Mr. "It slipped. "Only my slipper. James. "Well. out of the house. may I inquire. Wain took up a pen. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. This is my Moscow. Where are me slippers? Ha." he said.

watching it." "You will leave directly I receive his letter." said Wyatt." Mr. they only gain an extra fortnight of me. "As you know. exceedingly. James. Wyatt." continued Mr.motor-car. Do you understand? That is all. Exceedingly so. even were I disposed to do so. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. Only it _was_ sending me off. At once." "Of course. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately. "It is expulsion." "I need hardly say. approvingly. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. Wain suspended tapping operations. . You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. It's sending me to sleep. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. and resumed the thread of his discourse. "I wish you wouldn't do that. sir." Wyatt nodded. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No. father. James." said Wyatt laconically. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. ignoring the interruption. It is impossible for me to overlook it. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour. Tap like that. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected. You will not go to school to-morrow. It is not fitting. "I am sorry. but this is a far more serious matter. to see this attitude in you. You must leave the school. I mean. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. In a minute or two he would be asleep. Wain.

"No. "Oh. was for his team. . he's got to leave. or some rot. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. as an actual spectator of the drama." Burgess's first thought. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. but it failed to comfort him." Mike was miserably silent. "Buck up. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr. Burgess came up." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. He isn't coming to school again. "Anybody seen young--oh." he said. yes. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. as befitted a good cricket captain. "What happened?" "We chatted. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. all amongst the ink and ledgers. here you are." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. Wain were public property. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon. was in great request as an informant. and began to undress. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. Mike. So why worry?" Mike was still silent." said Wyatt cheerfully. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda. I shoot off almost immediately. father." "What? When?" "He's left already.

Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. "I say. one exception to the general rule." said Mike. though!" he added after a pause. You know. You'll play on Saturday."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. you see. Hope he does. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. his pal. I expect. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. As a matter of fact. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match. withdrawn. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. last night after Neville-Smith's. young Jackson." "He'll find it rather a change. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. Wyatt was his best friend. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. anyway. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. Not unless he comes to the dorm. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes." continued Burgess." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms. without enthusiasm. There was. They met in the cloisters. Look here. "All the same. and he's taken him away from the school. however. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. "Hullo. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket." "All right. that's the part he bars most. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm." agreed Mike. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . Bob was the next to interview him." "I should like to say good-bye. during the night. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. Mike!" said Bob.

" . where Mike left him. I don't know. "It was all my fault. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it." "Oh. "If it hadn't been for me. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. Only our first. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day." "Neville-Smith! Why." said Mike. way. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. Jackson. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. plunged in meditation. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. That's all. "It was absolutely my fault. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon. "What's up?" asked Bob. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval." he said at length. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything. They walked on without further Wain's gate. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. "Nothing much. as far as I can see. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared." said Burgess. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. "I say. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished. In extra on Saturday. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven. Bob. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. this wouldn't have happened. Well. "Only that. with a forced and grisly calm. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. by the way.

Bob went on his way to the nets.C. Mike. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. where countless sheep lived and had their being. He's a jolly good shot.C. or was being."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays." "By Jove. "Very." Burgess grunted. who believed in taking no chances." said Bob. They whacked the M. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. He must be able to work it. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. I know. I've thought of something. as most other boys of his age would have been. did he?" Mike. for lack of anything better to say. he had a partner. Wain's dressing-room. "I say. glad to be there again. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. Stronger than the one we drew with." "By Jove." "Oh.C. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. and once. the Argentine Republic. I'll write to father to-night. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. three years ago. made. to start with. he'd jump at anything. "I wanted to see you. Mike was just putting on his pads. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. It's about Wyatt. . Jolly hot team of M. Spenlow. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine. I may hold a catch for a change. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. As a matter of fact.C. presumably on business. well. I should think. too." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. his father had gone over there for a visit. from all accounts. If it comes off. that's to say. So Mr. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. And he can ride. He never chucked the show altogether. Like Mr. All these things seemed to show that Mr. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers.

sir." "Everything?" "Yes. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger. but that. Jackson's letter was short." His advent had apparently caused little sensation. and subsequently take in bundles to the . sir. sir. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability.. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters.." "H'm . He said that he hoped something could be managed. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match." "H'm . It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs.. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager.locked from the outside on retiring to rest. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast.. by a Beginner." "Cricketer?" "Yes. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit. sir. sir. Wyatt's letter was longer. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week.. there was no reason why something should not be done for him. but to the point. Racquets?" "Yes. These letters he would then stamp. In any case he would buy him a lunch. which had run as follows: "Mr. Mr." "H'm . Sportsman?" "Yes. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer." "Play football?" "Yes. sir. Wyatt?" "Yes. Well.." After which a Mr. you won't get any more of it now.

and go in first." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes.' which is a sort of start. this. sir. if the sun comes out. But it doesn't seem in my line. if it got the school out of a tight place. Wyatt. was not slow to recognise this fact. inspecting the wicket with Mr." Mr. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. Spence. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. by J. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. if I were you. when the match was timed to begin. 'Hints for Young Criminals. Burgess?" . so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. I suppose.C." wrote Wyatt. Even twenty. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. The Ripton match was a special event. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. At eleven-thirty. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. Burgess. Mind you make a century. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. It was a day on which to win the toss. "Who will go on first with you. Still. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. to be among the ruck.' So long. There were twelve colours given three years ago." said Burgess. It would just suit him. Spence.C. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting. Burgess. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. "I should cook the accounts. I suppose you are playing against Ripton." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. as a member of the staff. To do only averagely well. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. "I should win the toss to-day. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. match. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now." said Mr." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. "Or even Wyatt. It had stopped late at night. would be as useless as not playing at all. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career.post office. "Just what I was thinking. Honours were heaped upon him.

" "I must win the toss." "I don't think a lot of that. "We'll go in first." "I should." said Maclaine. I don't know of him. On a dry. This end. Looks as if it were going away. Mac. "It's a nuisance too." said Burgess." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow." "Tails it is. about our batting. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball. He's a pretty useful chap all round. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it. I've lost the toss five times running. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling. "Certainly. I believe." "Well. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads." said Burgess. "but I think we'll toss. of the Bosanquet type." "Oh. the Ripton captain. It's a hobby of mine. Ellerby. above all. I suppose?" "Yes--after us. well." "You'll put us in." "I know the chap. He wasn't in the team last year. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. The other's yours. He was crocked when they came here." said Burgess ruefully." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine. so I was bound to win to-day. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. They had been at the same private school. Plays racquets for them too. "One consolation is. though. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock. And. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip."Who do you think. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now. I must tell the fellows to look out for it." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose." "Heads. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. I think. You call. and comes in instead. were old acquaintances. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance. it might have been all right. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. that's a . but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this. A boy called de Freece. win the toss.

Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. Buck up and send some one in. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. They meant to force the game. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period.comfort. Twenty came in ten minutes. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. and let's get at you. and was certain to get worse. as it did on this occasion. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. The score mounted rapidly. run out. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. The policy proved successful for a time. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. Maclaine. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. At sixty Ellerby. The sun. but it means that wickets will fall. he was compelled to tread cautiously. as he would want the field paved with it. and Bob. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. The pitch had begun to play tricks. but the score. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. but which did not always break. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. So Ripton went in to hit. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. Dashing tactics were laid aside. The change worked. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. seventy-four for three wickets. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. Another hour of play remained before lunch. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. held it. Burgess began to look happier. Then ." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. as it generally does. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. which was now shining brightly. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. Burgess. as also happened now. They plodded on. gave place to Grant.

There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. and de Freece. medium-paced yorker. it was not straight. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. Every run was invaluable now. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. who had gone on again instead of Grant. and his one hit. Just a ball or two to the last man. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. and with it the luncheon interval. found his leg-stump knocked back. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. That period which is always so dangerous. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. but he had also a very accurate eye. for the last ten minutes. the ten minutes before lunch. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. The last man had just gone to the wickets. swiping at it with a bright smile. the slow bowler. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. The other batsman played out the over. missed his second. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty.Ellerby. He bowled a straight. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. came off with distressing frequency. they resent it. And when he bowled a straight ball. So far it was anybody's game. His record score. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. He had made twenty-eight. a semicircular stroke. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. as they walked . It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. A four and a three to de Freece. when a quarter to two arrived. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. when Ellerby. when the wicket is bad. it was not a yorker. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. he explained to Mike. and it will be their turn to bat. did what Burgess had failed to do.

The tragedy started with the very first ball. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true." "Hear that. rather than confidence that their best. Berridge. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven. "L." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. stick a bat in the way. For goodness sake. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative. First ball. Morris was the tenth case. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings. It would have been a gentle canter for them.-b." said Burgess helpfully. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. hard condition. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket. Hullo. Berry. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. You must look out for that. and not your legs. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets.-w. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. "That chap'll have Berry. . But Berridge survived the ordeal. he said. Berry? He doesn't always break. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom." said Burgess blankly. when done. But ordinary standards would not apply here. if he doesn't look out. when Morris was seen to leave the crease." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. for this or any ground. "Thought the thing was going to break.-w. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. "It's that googly man. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room." he said. would be anything record-breaking. On a bad wicket--well. A grim determination to do their best.-b.to the pavilion. but it didn't. He breaks like sin all over the shop. and make for the pavilion. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. "Morris is out. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand. He thought it was all right.

The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. No. broke it. He was in after Bob. he isn't. he was smartly at thirty. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. and took off his blazer. but this the next ball. The last of the over had him in two minds. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. He started to play forward. if we can only stay in. but it was considerably better than one for two. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. and the second tragedy occurred. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. The cloud began to settle again. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. The wicket'll get better. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's.." said Ellerby. "It's getting trickier every minute. He sent them down medium-pace. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. "The only thing is.. By George.This brought Marsh to the batting end. Mike was silent and thoughtful. The voice of the scorer. we might have a chance. "One for two. Ellerby took off his pads. "This is all right. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. Mike nodded. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion." . Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. He got up. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. Last man duck. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. With the score Freece. Ten for two was not good." he said. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then. Bob's out!. Bob was the next man in. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece. and scoring a couple of twos off it. stumped. jumping out to drive. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion." Ellerby echoed the remark. He had then.

on the board. I believe we might win yet." he said. "That's the way I was had. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off.." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist." "Bob's broken his egg. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite.. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. had fumbled the ball. "I'm going to shove you down one. Jackson. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed. He came to where Mike was sitting." "All right. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school. Mike. But now his feelings were different. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. and try and knock that man de Freece off. when. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here." said Mike. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed.C.C." said Mike. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. The melancholy youth put up the figures. was not conscious of any particular nervousness. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. "Forty-one for four. the batsmen crossed. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. as if it were some one else's. 54." said Ellerby. He was cool. If only somebody would knock him off his length. When he had gone out to bat against the M. you silly ass. "Good man. Every little helps. more by accident than by accurate timing. and had nearly met the same fate. A howl of delight went up from the school. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality.. as Ellerby had done. Oh. 12. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. Berridge was out by a yard. 5. however. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke. which was repeated. . "I shall go in next myself and swipe. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. _fortissimo_. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them." said Ellerby. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover." said Ellerby. The wicket-keeper. There was no sense of individuality.

De Freece said nothing. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. and hit it before it had time to break. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. It has nothing. The umpire shook his head. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. and whipped in quickly.Fitness. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. as he settled himself to face the bowler. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. finer players. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. in school matches. The next ball was of the same length. He felt that he knew where he was now. a comfortable three. The ball hit his right pad. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. But something seemed to whisper to him. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. considering his pace. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. Mike jumped out. that he was at the top of his batting form. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles.-b. and he had smothered them. and not short enough to take liberties with. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. to do with actual health. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. They had been well pitched up. but this time off the off-stump. and stepped back. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. And Mike took after Joe. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. He knew what to do now. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. . It pitched slightly to leg. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys.-w. or very little. Mike had faced half-left. apparently. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. Indeed. Joe would be in his element.

He had made twenty-six. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. It was a long-hop on the off. mainly by singles. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall." said Berridge. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. in the pavilion. "Sixty up. But Mike did not get out. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. however. He had an excellent style. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. Apparently. In the present case. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. His departure upset the scheme of things." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions." "You ass. There was nervousness written all over him. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. and made twenty-one. or he's certain to get out. He survived an over from de Freece.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. he lifted over the other boundary. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. (Two years later. Practically they had only one. but he was uncertain. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. Henfrey. nor Grant. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. thence to ninety. Mike could see him licking his lips. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. that this was his day. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. and the wicket was getting easier. For himself he had no fear now. The last ball of the over. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. To-day he never looked like settling down. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. and de Freece's pet googly. the next man in." said Ellerby. a half-volley to leg. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. for neither Ashe. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. to a hundred. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. And. he made a lot of runs. He might possibly get out off his next ball. "Don't say that. was a promising rather than an effective bat. the score mounted to eighty. but he was full of that conviction. and so. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. . At a hundred and four. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter.

But each time luck was with him. Jackson. It rolled in the direction of third man. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance.." "All right." shouted Grant. The last ball of the over he mishit. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in. announced that he had reached his fifty. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at. The fast bowler. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. but this happened now.He was not kept long in suspense. he stopped it. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. taken up a moment later all round the ground. "Over. A distant clapping from the pavilion. and it was possible to take liberties. Could he go up to him and explain that he. But it was going to be done. But he did not score. The next over was doubly sensational. . De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. was well-meaning but erratic. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end. and set his teeth. The wicket was almost true again now. Another fraction of a second. "Come on. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. "For goodness sake. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. but even so. As it was. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen.." said the umpire. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account. and a school prefect to boot. But the sixth was of a different kind. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. and he would have been run out. or we're done. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end." said Mike. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew." he whispered. it all but got through Mike's defence. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. Mike took them. "collar the bowling all you know. I shall get outed first ball.. Forty to win! A large order.

rough luck on de Freece. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat." "The funny part of it is." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last." continued he. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. and the bowling was not de Freece's." said Maclaine. A great stillness was over all the ground." said Maclaine. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over. The school broke into one great howl of joy. A bail fell silently to the ground. and rolled back down the pitch. Brother of the other one. It was an awe-inspiring moment. Point and the slips crowded round. He bowled rippingly. For four balls he baffled the attack. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. There were still seven runs between them and victory. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. Grant looked embarrassed. and touched the off-stump.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. I say. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. * * * * * "Good game. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. but determined. Mike had got the bowling. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. meeting Burgess in the pavilion." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run. The next moment the crisis was past. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. It was young Jackson. by the way?" "Eighty-three. The fifth curled round his bat. Mike's knees trembled.

Mike's place was still empty. "Is there?" said Mike. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock. "I've had a letter from MacPherson. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres. Mike. "Bushrangers." said Mr." added Phyllis. Mike read on. interested. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. Jackson was reading letters." said Phyllis. The Jacksons were breakfasting. "He gives no details. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man." "I wish Mike would come and open it. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. The hour being nine-fifteen. Mr. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke." explained Gladys Maud. bush-ray. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. but expects to be fit again shortly." "With a bushranger. "There's a letter from Wyatt. conversationally. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. referred to in a previous chapter. had settled down to serious work." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. who had duly secured the stakes. "Bush-ray." He opened the letter and began to read. He's been wounded in a duel." . Mrs. Jackson) had resulted. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper. in a victory for Marjory. The rest. bush-ray. but was headed off. Jackson." she shouted." said Ella. "Sorry I'm late." began Gladys Maud. "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. "Buck up. including Gladys Maud. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. through the bread-and-milk. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman." said Marjory. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee.It was a morning in the middle of September. "Bush-ray.

and it was any money on the Gaucho." said Marjory. Chester was unconscious. which had fallen just by where I came down. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. "I told you it was a duel..'" "By Jove!" said Mike. he wanted to ride through our place. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. Hurt like sin afterwards. it was practically a bushranger. and tooled after him. "Much better than being in a beastly bank.. proceeded to cut the fence. I picked it up. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder. So this rotter. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. and dropped poor old Chester. and so it was. and go through that way. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. but it turned out it was only his leg. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. which has crocked me for the time being. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . so excuse bad writing. Jackson.. "No. and loosed off... After a bit we overtook him. It happened like this. I thought he was killed at first. so he came to us and told us what had happened. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment. This is what he says. We nipped on to a couple of horses. instead of shifting off. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. Jackson.. Here you are. an Old Wykehamist. Only potted him in the leg. That's the painful story. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. and his day's work was done. a good chap who can't help being ugly." said Mike. He fired as we came up. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. "Anyhow. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. so I shall have to stop. I say. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here. summing up. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder." said Phyllis. Missed the first shot. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. and that's when the trouble began. and coming back. and missed him clean every time. and I were dipping sheep close by. A chap called Chester. Well. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. pulled out our revolvers. I got going then. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR.

Jackson had disappeared. as usual. while Marjory. "Hullo." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end." Mike seemed concerned. But he was late. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her. "I say. Mike. and did the thing thoroughly." "He didn't mean it really." . she would do it only as a favour. Mrs." she said." Marjory was bustling about. as Mr. as she always did. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. that's a comfort. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you." "Have you? Thanks awfully. Mike. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face." said Marjory. "Your report came this morning." said Mike philosophically. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock. even for Joe. He looked up interested. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had. When he came down on this particular morning. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket. but Mike was her favourite. Mr. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope. fetching and carrying for Mike. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. She had adopted him at an early age. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. though for the others. She was fond of her other brothers. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table. Jackson had gone into the kitchen.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. Blake used to write when you were in his form. the meal was nearly over. Father didn't say anything. looked on in a detached sort of way. taking his correspondence with him. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad." "No. It's the first I've had from Appleby. jumping up as he entered. "I'm a bit late. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents." she said.

while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. and now he had the strength as well. By the way. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser. father wants you. Mike. it's a beastly responsibility. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. Saunders. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. indeed.C. As he was walking towards the house. Master Mike. He had filled out in three years. From time to time. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature." he said. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting. He seems--" added Phyllis. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. He had always had the style."What ho!" interpolated Mike. "in a beastly wax. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the . "you'll make a century every match next term. I've been hunting for you. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two." Henfrey. It was early in the Easter holidays. Phyllis met him. Everybody says you are. Mr. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. on the arrival of Mr." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M. She was kept busy. "You _are_. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets. was not returning next term. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. "Oh." "What for?" "I don't know. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. was delighted. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. Let's go and see. however. I wonder if he's out at the net now. He liked the prospect. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match." "I wish I wasn't. but already he was beginning to find his form. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report. who treated his sons as companions. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. Jackson was an understanding sort of man.C. minor match type. At night sometimes he would lie awake." Mike's jaw fell slightly. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. and Mike was to reign in his stead." "Where?" "He's in the study. appalled by the fear of losing his form." was his muttered exclamation. Why.

" "'Latin poor. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme. scented a row in the offing.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning. and Mr. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings. "I want you to listen to this report." said Mr. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. Greek. therefore. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. father?" said Mike." "Here are Mr. Inattentive and idle. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub." "Oh. Jackson in measured tones.'" quoted Mr. is that my report. which he declines to use in the smallest degree." "'Mathematics bad. with a sort of sickly interest. there had been something not unlike a typhoon. There followed an awkward silence. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French." Mike. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering. Mike. Jackson. . Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. what is more.'" "We were doing Thucydides. Jackson was a man of his word. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. but on several occasions. skilled in omens. "your report. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so.'" "It wasn't anything really. "Come in." said his father. very poor." "Oh. that Jackson entered the study. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now. Jackson. "It is. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump. he paused. I say!" groaned the record-breaker. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. not once. kicking the waste-paper basket. "'French bad.previous term. "I want to speak to you. Book Two. It was on this occasion that Mr. "'His conduct. both in and out of school." replied Mr.

" Mike's heart thumped. Jackson was sorry for Mike. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. or their Eight to Bisley. spectacled youth who did not enter ." was his next remark. He understood him. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. The tragedy had happened." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. his father. Jackson. and Mr. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year." he said blankly. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. perhaps. "It is not a large school. Mike's point of view was plain to him. Mike?" said Mr. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. but it has one merit--boys work there. He did not approve of it." he said. a silent. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole. pure and simple. but still blithely). Mr." Barlitt was the vicar's son. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. birds were twittering. He understood cricket. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. and for that reason he said very little now. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. "I am sending you to Sedleigh. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket.' There is more to the same effect. Mr. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. Mike said nothing. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. He knew it would be useless. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. and there was an end of it." Mr. "I shall abide by what I said. when he made up his mind.

pulled up again." said the porter. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. Barlitt's mind was massive. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. thanks. He thought. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van." "Thank you. "For the school. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. Jackson. and the colour of his hair. A sombre nod. Mike said nothing. for instance. "So you're back from Moscow. "It's a goodish step. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's. sir. got up. It's straight on up this road to the school." said Mike. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus." "Here you are. and the man who took his ticket. Then he got out himself and looked about him. Also the boots he wore. He hated the station. sir. and Mike. sir. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said. sir. He walked off up the road. sir?" inquired the solitary porter." said Mike frigidly. opened the door. sir. sir. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. so far from attempting to make the best of things. seeing the name of the station." added Mr." "Worse luck. "Mr. sorrier for himself than ever. bustling up. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. Hi. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. It's waiting here. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. The future seemed wholly gloomy. And.very largely into Mike's world. and said. George!" "I'll walk. "Young gents at the school. sir. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. his appearance. He disliked his voice. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner." "Right. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. but not much conversation had ensued. You can't miss it. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. Mike nodded. It was such .

Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. but he was not to be depended upon." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. This must be Sedleigh. sir. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. Now it might never be used. Mike went to the front door. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. "Yes.absolutely rotten luck. would be weak this year. and had lost both the Ripton matches. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. Wrykyn. now that he was no longer there. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. But it was not the same thing. There were three houses in a row. at that. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. from the top of a hill. if he survived a few overs. but almost as good. and knocked. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. Once he crossed a river. on top of all this. About now. and the house-master appeared. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. who would be captain in his place. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. Outwood's. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. It was soon after this that he caught sight. too. Presently the door opened. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. Which was the bitter part of it. "Jackson?" he said mildly. Outwood's was the middle one of these. Strachan was a good. Outwood. Enderby. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. and was shown into a room lined with books. And as captain of cricket. might make a century in an hour. free bat on his day." . And now. and. He had never been in command. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. Burgess. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. the return by over sixty points. The football fifteen had been hopeless. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. going in first. Outwood. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. He inquired for Mr. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan.

"If you don't mind dirtying your bags. Bishop Geoffrey. "is Smith. He spoke in a tired voice. standing quite free from the apse wall. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. What's yours?" . The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. In many respects it is unique. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. finding his bearings." he said. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. All alone in a strange school. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. Personally."I am very glad to see you. Good-bye for the present. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit." he added pensively. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. Oh. My name. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. But this room was occupied. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. It was a little hard. that's to say. said he had not. Jackson. You will find the matron in her room. A very long. A Nursery Garden in the Home. Ambrose. "Hullo. Quite so. Quite so. then. I understand. He strayed about. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket. where they probably played hopscotch. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. "Hullo. with chamfered plinth. It will well repay a visit. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. That sort of idea. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. good-bye. his gloom visibly deepened. "Take a seat. Jackson." said Mike. You come from Crofton. Jackson. very glad indeed." said the immaculate one. I think you might like a cup of tea. was leaning against the mantelpiece. sir?" "What? Yes. As Mike entered. and fixed it in his right eye. thin youth. he spoke. in Shropshire. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. yes.

"No. I was sent to Eton. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. the name Zbysco." he resumed. At an early age. But." said Mike. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. the Pride of the School. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. the P not being sounded." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here. there's just one thing. But what Eton loses. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. or simply Smith. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. before I start. I shall found a new dynasty. We now pass to my boyhood. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. Sit down on yonder settee. and got it. so I don't know. I was superannuated last term. If you ever have occasion to write to me. When I was but a babe. See?" Mike said he saw." "Bad luck." "No?" said Mike. Cp. for choice. then?" "Yes! Why. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. See? There are too many Smiths. "it was not to be." "For Eton. and see that I did not raise Cain. "Are you the Bully. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. . of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. everybody predicting a bright career for me." "But why Sedleigh. "but I've only just arrived. "Let us start at the beginning. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h." said Psmith solemnly. Sedleigh gains." said Mike. yes. and I don't care for Smythe. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). "My infancy. By the way. too.

Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. mark you. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening." "And thereby. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. Divided. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. His dislike for his new school was not diminished. will you? I've just become a Socialist. Now tell me yours. Sheep that have gone astray. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years. we fall. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. A noble game. You won't mind my calling you Comrade. We are practically long-lost brothers. We are companions in misfortune. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. prowling about." "I am with you. Comrade Jackson. You ought to be one." said Psmith. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. Jawed about apses and things. dusting his right trouser-leg." "Wrykyn. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. who told our curate. Lost lambs." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. who told our vicar. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday. There's an Archaeological Society in the school. "You have heard my painful story. laddie. Cheer a little. run by him. You work for the equal distribution of property. The vicar told the curate." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. He could almost have embraced Psmith. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too." . To get off cricket. who told my father. but a bit too thick for me. The son of the vicar."That was the man. and so on. We must stick together." said Psmith. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. It goes out on half-holidays. There's a libel action in every sentence. together we may worry through. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. Bit off his nut. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. Outwood. "hangs a tale. It's a great scheme. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. And.

at any rate. looking out over the school grounds. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side." he said. two empty bookcases. This is practical Socialism. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp. Let's go and look. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure. Above all. we will go out of bounds. We must stake out our claims."I'm not going to play here." "Then let's beat up a study. and one not without its meed of comfort. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers." . There were a couple of deal tables." said Psmith. and have a jolly good time as well. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. hand in hand. and a looking-glass. Psmith approved the resolve." They went upstairs. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter. "We will. hung on a nail. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood." "Good idea. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme. "is the exact programme. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. "Stout fellow. Psmith opened the first of these. You and I." "It would take a lot to make me do that." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other." said Psmith approvingly. I suppose they have studies here. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. "'Tis well. "Might have been made for us. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. and do a bit on our own account." said Mike. We shall thus improve our minds. It was a biggish room. as it were. "This'll do us well. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown." he said. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That." "Not now. and get our names shoved down for the Society. was one way of treating the situation." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. A chap at Wrykyn. We will snare the elusive fossil together. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep." said Mike. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. and straightening his tie. called Wyatt.

It's got an Etna and various things in it. sits down. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. as he watched Mike light the Etna. though the idea was Psmith's. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. was rather a critic than an executant. I had several bright things to say on the subject. somebody comes right in." said Psmith." said Psmith. "Privacy. Do you think you could make a long arm. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. "are the very dickens. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. And now. if you want to be really useful. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. not ours. We make progress. A rattling at the handle followed. I wonder. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. We make progress. could you. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. Hullo. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard." "These school reports. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. the first thing you know is. Similarly. though. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day." said Mike. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. "The weed. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs."His misfortune. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. "You couldn't make a long arm." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. That putrid calendar must come down. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks. What's this." . What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary." said Psmith sympathetically. and begins to talk about himself. There are moments when one wants to be alone." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith." A heavy body had plunged against the door. He was full of ideas. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. and a voice outside said.

Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly." inquired the newcomer. "In this life. practical order. and screamed." he repeated. "you stayed on till the later train. on arrival." said Psmith. all might have been well. "It's beastly cheek. He went straight to the root of the matter. "Well. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. you find strange faces in the familiar room. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. and said.Mike unlocked the door. put up his eyeglass. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea." said Psmith. and cheered himself with a sip of tea." said Psmith. Your father held your hand and said huskily. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. that's what I call it. and. Spiller evaded the question. it's beastly cheek. "to restore our tissues after our journey. 'Don't go. "It's beastly cheek. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. 'Edwin. freckled boy. Homely in appearance. I am Psmith." "My name's Spiller. we Psmiths. Come in and join us. "What the dickens. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. and this is my study. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein." Psmith went to the table." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. Comrade Spiller. 'Edwin. Edwin!' And so. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been." said Psmith. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. A stout fellow. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train." "But we do. We keep open house. But no." said he. and flung it open. a people that know not Spiller. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. we must be prepared for every emergency. It is unusual for people to go about the place . but one of us. perhaps. deeply affected by his recital.

And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike.' So he stamped on the accelerator. I am glad to see that you have already made friends. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares. Mr. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in." said Psmith. it's my study. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said. let this be a lesson to you. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible.bagging studies. . and Jackson. "And Smith. Psmith particularly debonair. As it is." said Psmith. I'm going to have it. you are unprepared. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all. the man of Logic. Spiller pink and determined. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point.' he said. of course. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. It was Simpson's last term. "Ah. so." he said. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. 'I couldn't. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once. 'Now we'll let her rip. and the other's the accelerator. and skidded into a ditch. He hummed lightly as he walked." "Spiller's." "Look here. Spiller. and Simpson's left. Spiller." "We'll see what Outwood says about it." The trio made their way to the Presence. He cannot cope with the situation. We may as well all go together." "Not an unsound scheme. Spiller." Mr. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible. and I'm next on the house list. sir. we know.' Take the present case.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. "are you going to take? Spiller. 'I wouldn't. Mike sullen. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. One's the foot-brake. Error! Ah. By no means a scaly project. The thing comes on you as a surprise. and we stopped dead. But what of Spiller. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside. "All I know is." "But what steps. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner.

who presided over the School Fire Brigade. though small. sir--" said Spiller. were in the main earnest." pursued Psmith earnestly." Mr." "Please. tolerantly." "Undoubtedly. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school. Spiller. Smith?" "Intensely." ." said Psmith. Mr. appeared to be the main interest in their lives. "I have been unable to induce to join." "Please. Boys came readily at his call." he said. "Yes. "One moment. Mr. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging. "Yes. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another." "Ah. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band. sir--" began Spiller. Do you want to join. His colleague. "that accounts for it. very pleased indeed. games that left him cold. Smith." "There is no vice in Spiller."Er--quite so. Smith." he said at last. sir. Cricket and football. Outwood beamed." said Psmith sadly. We have a small Archaeological Society. while his own band. "His heart is the heart of a little child. This enthusiasm is most capital. two miles from the school. "I am delighted. I am very pleased. "One moment." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. not at all. This is capital." "Not at all." "Oh. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. never had any difficulty in finding support." "Spiller. A grand pursuit. Smith. sir. sir--" said Spiller. Smith. sir. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. Most delighted." "Jackson. Spiller. I--er--in a measure look after it. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. Archaeology fascinates me. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please." "And Jackson's. if you were not too busy. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday." said Psmith. sir. sir. Is there anything----" "Please. quite so. Downing. "I understand. sir. he is one of our oldest members. too!" Mr. sir. I will put down your name at once.

I like this spirit of comradeship in my house. Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. "There is just one other matter." "Capital!" "Please. sir. sir. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith." said Psmith. sir." He turned to Mr. "is your besetting fault. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. "This tendency to delay. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller." "Quite so. sir." "Thank you very much. if you could spare the time. We will move our things in." "All this sort of thing." shouted Spiller. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. sir. Smith. Smith. "One moment. as they closed the door." "Certainly. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means." "Quite so. always be glad to see Spiller in our study. sir. sir. Spiller. sir--" said Spiller." "But." "Thank you very much. "We should. A very good idea. Outwood. Spiller."We shall be there. Spiller. Spiller. Edwin." he said. Smith." said Mike. An excellent arrangement. "Please. very trying for a man of culture. You should have spoken before. sir." said Psmith. I come next after Simpson. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. "is very. Correct it. sir." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE . of course." "Yes. Fight against it. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday. Quite so. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly.

they can only get at us through the door. there is nothing he can deny us. "He thinks of everything! You're the man. "about when we leave this room. We are as sons to him. but we can't stay all night." he said with approval. jam a chair against it. . I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. I don't like rows. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder." "_And_. "We will now." said Psmith. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree. the door handle rattled again." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off." he said. face the future for awhile. but we must rout him out once more. "We ought to have known each other before." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller." "The loss was mine. Here we are in a stronghold." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. he would not have appreciated it properly. we're all right while we stick here." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it. as you rightly remark. Comrade Jackson. This place would have been wasted on Spiller. "The difficulty is. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart." As they got up. Smith. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. and we can lock that." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis."There are few pleasures. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home." "And jam a chair against it." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. and this time there followed a knocking. I say. I mean. though." Mike was finishing his tea. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once. with your permission." said Psmith courteously.

as one mourning over the frailty of human nature." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths." said Psmith. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets. "Let us parley with the man. "If you move a little to the left. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe. with. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson." sighed Psmith." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour. then?" asked Mike. "He might get about half a dozen. not more. only it belongs to three ." said Mike." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword." said Psmith. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room." "As I suspected." Mike unlocked the door. _I_ think Spiller's an ass." "Old Spiller." "How many _will_ there be." he explained. "is cursing you like anything downstairs. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out. say." said Psmith. "I just came up to have a look at you." giggled Jellicoe." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful. in his practical way. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it. for instance. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character." "Sturdy common sense." said Psmith approvingly. A light-haired youth with a cheerful. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike." said Psmith. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass. Do you happen to know of any snug little room." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged.

" said Psmith. Smith?" he said. Things." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe." "We were wondering. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down." "And now." "I believe in the equal distribution of property.chaps. "are beginning to move. but shall be delighted to see him up here. "We must apologise for disturbing you. come in. Smith. sir----" "Not at all. Ah." he said. I like to see it--I like to see it. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study. and some other chaps. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder." "And we can have the room." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. the others waited outside." he said. Jellicoe and myself. Better leave the door open. as the messenger departed. Smith. it will save trouble. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. I think. as they returned to the study. if you would have any objection to Jackson. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith. "has sprung up between Jackson. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position." Mr." "You make friends easily. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. "Yes. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help. crowding . "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. Comrade Spiller. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. "That door. sir. The handle began to revolve again." This time it was a small boy." said Psmith.

was just in time to see Psmith.in the doorway. "Robinson. Mike. "Come on. Jellicoe giggled in the background. and then to stand by for the next attack. . instead of resisting. the captive was already on the window-sill." "We'll risk it. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below. This time. you chaps. "Who was our guest?" he asked. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. slammed the door and locked it. "We must act. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed. For a moment the doorway was blocked. if you don't. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe. the first shot has been fired. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly. always. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. As Mike arrived. the door." said Psmith approvingly. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action. the enemy gave back. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him. however. Mike jumped to help. was it? Well. "A neat piece of work. but it was needless." said Spiller. Comrade Spiller. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. turning after re-locking the door." said Jellicoe. and Mike." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson. but Mike had been watching. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. The dogs of war are now loose." said Mike. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. I say. "Look here. stepping into the room again." "You'll get it hot." cried Spiller suddenly. and the handle. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. "They'll have it down. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door." A heavy body crashed against the door. swung open. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. His was a simple and appreciative mind.

" "This." said Psmith. but Psmith was in his element." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. nip upstairs as quickly as you can." Mike followed the advice. . "There's no harm in going out." said Mike. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy. you'll only get it hotter if you don't. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory. of course. and have it out?" said Mike. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. It read: "Directly this is over. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. "No. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. you know. we will play the fixture on our own ground. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. we would be alone. Jellicoe knocked at the door." said Mike." "They won't do anything till after tea. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. "Tea. "You'd better come out. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night. Spiller. and see what happens. but it can't go on. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in." said Jellicoe. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. "is exciting. Well." The passage was empty when they opened the door. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. they were first out of the room. I shouldn't think. Spiller's face was crimson." A bell rang in the distance. leaning against the mantelpiece." he said. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. When they had been in the study a few moments." "Leave us. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound.Somebody hammered on the door. "we shall have to go now.

" said Psmith placidly. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. well-conducted establishment. but otherwise. It was probable. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. And now." said Psmith. "only he won't. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter. deposed that Spiller." said Psmith." "Then I think. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. _ne pas_. they rag him. where Robinson also had a bed. retiring at ten. He never hears anything." said Mike." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage. Shall we be moving?" Mr. as predicted by Jellicoe. "the matter of noise. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. that human encyclopaedia. and disappeared again. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous. As to the time when an attack might be expected. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. therefore. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. Mr. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room. closing the door. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started." said Jellicoe." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. "And touching. he'll simply sit tight. We shall be glad of his moral support. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert."Quite right. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. . What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle.

too. I have evolved the following plan of action. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door." said Psmith. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground."How about that door?" said Mike. . showed that Jellicoe. directly he heard the door-handle turned. If they have no candle. had heard the noise. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. Subject to your approval. He would then----" "I tell you what. Comrade Jellicoe. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. especially if. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. but far otherwise. listening. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. There was a creaking sound. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. "we will retire to our posts and wait. "These humane preparations being concluded. If they have. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. Mike was tired after his journey. and a slight giggle. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. which is close to the door. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. There were three steps leading down to it. too." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. waiting for him. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. "Dashed neat!" he said. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. Napoleon would have done that. Comrade Jackson. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle." said Mike. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. they may wait at the top of the steps. I always ask myself on these occasions. as on this occasion. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. silence is essential. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. Psmith surveyed the result with approval.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees. I want every boy to be keen. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here." "I never loaf. not wandering at large about the country. the Archaeological Society here. we went singing about the house. "Excellent. Comrade Outwood loves us. sir. sir. "Now _he's_ cross. loafing habits. sir. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance." said Psmith. nothing else." said Psmith. both in manner and appearance. We are. and walked on. eh?" It was a master." "On archaeology. Outwood last night. to an excitable bullfinch. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad." "A very wild lot. I was referring to the principle of the thing." said Mr. I suppose you will both play. above all. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. with fervour." "At any rate. When we heard that there was a society here. a keen school. Downing vehemently. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff." sighed Psmith. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started." Adair turned. "If you choose to waste your time. I fear. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket." He stumped off. A short. Archaeology is a passion with us. We want keenness here. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. It gets him into idle. too. But in my opinion it is foolery." Mr." said Psmith. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys." "Good job." "We are. the better. I like every new boy to begin at once. I tell you I don't like it. "I don't like it. Let's go on and see what sort . "I was not alluding to you in particular. "I saw Adair speaking to you. sir. I suppose I can't hinder you. sir. The more new blood we have. probably smoking and going into low public-houses. shaking his head. looking after him. Scarcely had he gone.

mostly in Downing's house. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. the head of Outwood's. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. Numbers do not make good cricket. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. Barnes. was a very good bowler indeed. Any sort of a game." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. Lead me to the nearest net. Stone and Robinson themselves. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. There were times. He did not repeat the experiment. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. It couldn't be done. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. and Stone was a good slow bowler. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. that swash-buckling pair. and Wyatt. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. to begin with. It was on a Thursday afternoon. There were other exponents of the game. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. "I _will_ be good. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. Mike would have placed above him. What made it worse was that he saw. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. He was not a Burgess. Adair. Altogether. by the law of averages. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. after . but there were some quite capable men. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. And now he positively ached for a game. was a mild. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. were both fair batsmen. after watching behind the nets once or twice. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting. The batting was not so good. when the sun shone. and Milton. in his three years' experience of the school.

who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition." it may be observed. Mike. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze.school. He was embarrassed and nervous. He went up to Adair. for Mr. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. as he sat there watching. and brood apart for awhile. This is the real cricket scent. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. Mr. More abruptly this time. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. but patronising. "Go in after Lodge over there. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. "What?" he said. Psmith. Mike walked away without a word. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. from increased embarrassment. He patronised fossils. Mike repeated his request." he said." said Adair coldly. to be absolutely accurate." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. was the first eleven net. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. and kept them by his aide. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. Let us find some shady nook where a . "Having inspired confidence. Roman camps. He looked up." "Over there" was the end net. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. The day was warm. and he patronised ruins. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. "This is the first eleven net. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. let us slip away. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet. Psmith approached Mike. give me the pip. he would have patronised that. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. "by the docility of our demeanour. He was amiable. seemed to enjoy them hugely. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. "This net. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. and was trying not to show it. could stand it no longer.

"A fatiguing pursuit. jumped the brook. unless you have anything important to say." said Psmith." And Psmith. Call me in about an hour. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. Comrade Jackson. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles." said Psmith. "I was just having a look round. "And. In fact. Their departure had passed unnoticed. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. this looks a likely spot. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. and began to bark vigorously at him. and trusted to speed to save him. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. I can tell you. and they strolled away down the hill. he got up. and then." he said. and began to explore the wood on the other side. He was too late. Looking back. above all. dancing in among my . they always liked him. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. In the same situation a few years before. hitching up the knees of his trousers. He came back to where the man was standing. He was a short. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. for the Free Foresters last summer. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. but he could not place him. lay down. on acquaintance. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. finding this a little dull. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. offered no opposition. Mike sat on for a few minutes. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. "and no farther. Mike would have carried on. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. and. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. At the further end there was a brook. "Thus far. broad young man with a fair moustache. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. "I played against you. Mike liked dogs. I rather think I'll go to sleep. We will rest here awhile. Ah. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action. and listen to the music of the brook. Mine are like some furrowed field." Mike. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. and closed his eyes." "The dickens you--Why. In passing.man may lie on his back for a bit. and sitting down.

only cover dropped it. I'll tell you how it is." "I'll lend you everything. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground.nesting pheasants. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front. turning to the subject next his heart." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike." And he told how matters stood with him. It's just off the London road. There's a sign-post where you turn off. I'm simply dying for a game. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now. I say. but no great shakes. Very keen. you see. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away." "That's all right. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket. you know. You made fifty-eight not out. By the way. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. You're Prendergast." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. We all start out together." "I'll play on a rockery." said Mike. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is." "Thanks. "Any Wednesday or Saturday. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn. * * * * * . By Jove." "You ought to have had me second ball. Look here. He began to talk about himself." "I'm frightfully sorry. "So. if you want me to." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked." "I'll give you all you want. "I hang out down here. "Only village. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason." he concluded. but I could nip back.

" "My lips are sealed. As time went on. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. Jackson. Cricket I dislike. but it was a very decent substitute. To Mr. for a village near here." * * * * * That Saturday. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. To Mike. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. If you like the game. employed doing "over-time. though he would not have admitted it. Downing's special care. life can never be entirely grey. on being awakened and told the news. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. don't tell a soul. sleepily. M. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. to enjoy himself. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. Mike began. "I'm going to play cricket. will you? I don't want it to get about. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. fussy." One of the most acute of these crises. Downing. punctuated at intervals by crises. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. Downing. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. never an easy form-master to get on with. and Mr. It was. Mr. Downing. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. I think I'll come and watch you. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. and it grew with further acquaintance. It was not Wrykyn. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. Mr. indeed. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. I say. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. and the most important. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. pompous.

sir. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. "Shall I put it to the vote. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. The rest were entirely frivolous. Outwood. who. Downing's form-room. These two officials were those sportive allies. was the Sedleigh colour. In passing. short for Sampson. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. Wilson. an engaging expression. of the School House. "Well. To show a keenness for cricket was good. under him was a captain." Red. Sammy. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. Sammy was the other. To-day they were in very fair form. As soon as Mr. much in request during French lessons. and a particular friend of Mike's. with a thin green stripe. The proceedings always began in the same way. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. We will now proceed to the painful details. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. He was a large. Stone. The Brigade was carefully organised. sir. Downing. Downing. held up his hand.esteem of Mr. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr." . Under them were the rank and file. "One moment. a sort of high priest. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. sir?" asked Stone. of Outwood's house. had joined young and worked their way up. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. Stone and Robinson. Downing had closed the minute-book. a tenor voice. the tongue of an ant-eater. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. with green stripes. or Downing. light-hearted dog with a white coat. who looked on the Brigade in the right. Downing pondered "Red. and under the captain a vice-captain. and was apparently made of india-rubber. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. Wilson?" "Please. He had long legs. Downing. At its head was Mr. about thirty in all. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. spirit.

"I don't think my people would be pleased. sir. "Silence!" "Then. sir. Stone." A scuffling of feet. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please." "Please."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard. sir. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. of course. the danger!" "Please. of course." . Wilson?" "Please. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive. and the meeting had divided. sir. Stone. sir. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads. Well. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. sir. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant." "Please. sir. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. out of the question." said Robinson. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. Mr. Mr. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. those against it to the right. "Sit down!" he said. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. listen to me." said Stone. Downing rapped irritably on his desk. get back to your place. sir. We cannot plunge into needless expense. please. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance. The whole strength of the company: "Please. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man. sir-r-r!" "But. sir." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. Downing banged on his desk. sit down--Wilson. perfectly preposterous. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is." "Oo-oo-oo-oo.

We must have keenness." was cut off by the closing door. Wilson!" "Yes." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr. "A bird. He was not alone." A pained "OO-oo-oo. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall." "What _sort_ of noise. we are busy. leave the room!" "Sir. "Our Wilson is facetious. The muffled cries grew more distinct. sir?" asked Mike. puzzled. "It's outside the door. "Sir. "Noise. I think. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in. sir?" said a voice "off. sir. And. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice. sir? No. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr. Mr. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle." said Robinson. no. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. Wilson." he remarked frostily." he said." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. sir. "Very well--be quick. Downing. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. I want you boys above all to be keen. mingled with cries half-suppressed. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. _please_. there must be less of this flippancy. "do me one hundred lines. sir. Downing. Downing smiled a wry smile. sir?" inquired Mike. Downing. I'm not making a whining noise. sir?" asked Mike." as he reached the door. "I think it's something outside the window. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. sir-r-r.Mr. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. Jackson. as many Wrykynians . Those near enough to see. sir!" "This moment. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. "May I fetch a book from my desk." said Stone helpfully.

among the ruins barking triumphantly. "I do not propose. The banging on Mr." put in Stone. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. What are you doing. others flung books. the same! Go to your seat. "Perhaps that's it. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. all of you. go quietly from the room." said Mr. Jackson and Wilson. Downing's desk resembled thunder." Crash! . and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way. if you do not sit down. Mr. like Marius. "to imitate the noise. sir?" bellowed the unseen one." "They are mowing the cricket field. remain. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. "Stone. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. Henderson. Vincent.had asked before him." said the invisible Wilson. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away. It was a stirring. and was now standing. sir. It is a curious whining noise. you will be severely punished. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. Downing shot out orders. I said. Mr. Come in. Downing acidly. _Quietly_. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. sir. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. rising from his place. all shouted. bustling scene. Some leaped on to forms." "Or somebody's boots. threats. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. sir." "Yes." added Robinson. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. sit down! Donovan. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. "A rat!" shouted Robinson. Chaos reigned. Downing. "They do sometimes.

Jackson. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines."Wolferstan. Mr. Wilson had supplied the rat. and paid very little for it. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. sir." said Mike. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. it was true. Also he kept wicket for the school. sir. frivolous at times. too. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. Go quietly from the room. and he came in after the rat. Jackson. so he came in. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society." The meeting dispersed. as one who tells of strange things. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. come here. sir. Downing turned to Mike." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. Wilson?" "Please. but when you told me to come in." It was plain to Mr. Downing walked out of the room. I had to let him go. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . We are a keen school. everybody. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. "Well. so I came in----" "And by a fluke." he said. Wilson. and had refused to play cricket. That will do. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. but Mr. "You may go. "Jackson and Wilson." "I tried to collar him. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. Jackson." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him. but nevertheless a member. Mike the dog. "One hundred lines." And Mr." said Wilson. I fear. Mr.

he would be practically penniless for weeks. if you like." "Oh. done with. But it's about all I have got. he did. as a matter of fact. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect." said Mike. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. Robinson on the table. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. Jellicoe came into the room. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. forgotten. contemporary with Julius Caesar. and. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. asked for the loan of a sovereign. and welcomed the intrusion. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. "As a matter of fact. Mike's heart warmed to them. "You're a sportsman. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. I do happen to have a quid.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room. There was. Mike put down his pen. Robinson was laughing. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. so don't be shy about paying it back. He felt that he. Stone beamed. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. The fact is. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . they should have it. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. the return match. it may be stated at once. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. "I say. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. sorry.They say misfortunes never come singly. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. You can freeze on to it. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. They sat down." said Robinson. and got up." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. by return of post. He was in warlike mood. after the Sammy incident. without preamble. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. (Which. I'm in a beastly hole.

and a vast store of animal spirits. "Those Fire Brigade meetings." "Don't you!" said Mike. and you never get more than a hundred lines. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread. "Were you sacked?" "No." said Stone. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket. you could get into some sort of a team. "are a rag. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. above all. Masters were rather afraid of them. If you know one end of a bat from the other. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community. They had a certain amount of muscle.public school." "'We are. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished." said Mike." . They were useful at cricket. As to the kind of adventure. "Well. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. a keen school. He got a hundred lines.'" quoted Stone. They go about. small and large. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement. My pater took me away. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. Winifred's" brand. and then they usually sober down. loud and boisterous. and began to get out the tea-things. he now found them pleasant company. As for Mike. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. "I got Saturday afternoon. You can do what you like. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. They were absolutely free from brain." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket.

"Enough for six." "What!" "Well."Wrykyn?" said Robinson. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day." "Adair sticks on side. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running. I say. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village." "Masters don't play in house matches." agreed Robinson. for a start. We're playing Downing's. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J. Stone broke the silence. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes." said Stone. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler. yes. W. You _must_ play. Stone gaped. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. Only a friendly. I play for a village near here. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten. My word. and knock the cover off him." said Stone. Place called Little Borlock." said Mike." said Robinson. and I should have been captain this year. "I did. "Why. I was in the team three years. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. There are always house matches. "By Jove. look here. but they always have it in the fourth week. if I'd stopped on. You don't get ordered about by Adair. and the others?" "Brother. surely?" "This isn't a real house match." ." "Think of the rag. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. I say. "I've got an idea. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove. do play. "Why.

"then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. on his face the look of one who has seen visions. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him." "Yes. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door. Downing assumed it. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. Barnes appeared. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket. and make him alter it."But the team's full. Downing he had the outward aspect of one." he said. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert. "Are you the M." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop." said Mike. "Thanks awfully. Mr. "I say. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. Jackson. I was in the team. and a murmur of excited conversation. Then footsteps returning down the passage." said Mike. It was so in Mike's case. I mean. "I say." They dashed out of the room. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. He studied his _Wisden_. then. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. Most leap at the opportunity. quite unexpectedly. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. THEN." he said. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag. Mike was not a genuine convert. and when. but to Mr. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. "The list isn't up yet. . JACKSON.

who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. It is the right spirit. in the way he took .He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. 2 manner--the playful. where the nervous new boy. Adair. timidly jubilant. Smith? You are not playing yourself. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. Downing's No. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. Your enthusiasm has bounds. * * * * * Barnes. Drones are not welcomed by us. "I like to see it. contrives to get an innings in a game. Mike. sir. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. the archaeologist of yesterday. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. With Mike it was different. with a kind of mild surprise. becomes the cricketer of to-day. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type. sir. except for the creases." "Indeed. on the cricket field. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. "What!" he cried." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. above all. had naturally selected the best for his own match. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness. Mike saw. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. "We are. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. working really hard. Jackson. sir. "a keen house. competition is fierce. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which." he said." said Psmith earnestly. I notice. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. Downing." "In our house. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. who was with Mike. We are essentially versatile. It was a good wicket. as captain of cricket.

A half-volley this time. but the programme was subject to alterations. Mr. and ended with a combination of step and jump. The first over was a maiden. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field." said Mr. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. in his stand at the wickets. This time the hope was fulfilled. and. as several of the other games had not yet begun. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. and off the wicket on the on-side. He had got a sight of the ball now. gave a jump. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. slow. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. they were disappointed. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. Mike took guard. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. Jenkins. and dashed up against the rails. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. failed to stop it. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. The ball. when delivered. Mike slammed it back. The fieldsmen changed over. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. He took two short steps. Downing irritably. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. Mike started cautiously. Downing's slows. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. and he knew that he was good. was billed to break from leg. but it stopped as Mr. Mike went out at it. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. two long steps. and mid-on. The ball was well up.guard. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. took three more short steps. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. six dangerous balls beautifully played. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. "Get to them. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. as the ball came .

Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. if you can manage it. The third ball was a slow long-hop. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. Adair came up. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. and then retired moodily to cover-point. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. one is inclined to be abrupt. there was a strong probability that Mr. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. and. Jenkins. Downing would pitch his next ball short. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. where. By the time the over was finished. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion." "Sir. Downing. in addition. without the slightest success. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. Scared by this escape. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. And a shrill small voice. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. uttered with painful distinctness the words. This happened now with Mr. and Mike. and bowling well. Mr. Downing bowled one more over. . in Adair's fifth over. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. waited in position for number four. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. The expected happened. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. and the total of his side. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. offering no more chances. it is usually as well to be batting. Mike had then made a hundred and three. "Get to them. by three wides. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. please." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. Then he looked up.back from the boundary. sat on the splice like a limpet. His whole idea now was to bowl fast.

I said I wasn't going to play here. "I never saw such a chump. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. Downing. too. and the school noticed it. Of all masters. having got Downing's up a tree. "No. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. Not up to it. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster."I didn't say anything of the kind." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. Mr." There was another pause. "Great Scott. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. I suppose?" "Not a bit. "Above it. "That's just the gay idea. The result was that not only he himself. am I?" said Mike. "Declare!" said Robinson." There was a silence." said Stone. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. politely. There's a difference. "Sick! I should think they would. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . Three years. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. thanks. "I'm not keeping you. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. but also--which was rather unfair--his house. Barnes's remark that he supposed. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals. won't they?" suggested Barnes. was met with a storm of opposition." Adair was silent for a moment. As a matter of fact. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People.

had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper." "Don't you worry about that. each weirder and more futile than the last. and that is what happened now. "If you declare. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . The bowling of a house team is all head and no body." "Well. Mr. At four o'clock. greatly daring. Barnes. Games had frequently been one-sided. "Only you know they're rather sick already. proceeded to get to business once more." said Barnes unhappily. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. or when one is out without one's gun." said Robinson. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance." "Rather not. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. passing in the road. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. The first-change pair are poor.can. going in first early in the morning. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. And the rest. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. and Mike. tried their luck. Downing took a couple more overs. Nor will Robinson. it was assumed by the field. But still the first-wicket stand continued." "So do I. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. Play was resumed at 2. was bowling really well. Time.15. fortified by food and rest. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. in one of which a horse." said Stone with a wide grin. These are the things which mark epochs. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. that directly he had topped his second century. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. Besides. I swear I won't field. I won't then. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short. after a full day's play. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. if I can get it. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives. mercifully. playing himself in again. and Stone came out.30. In no previous Sedleigh match." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. Bowlers came and went. the small change. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. amidst applause. Adair.

and Stone... capital.. 124 ...) A grey dismay settled on the field.. Jackson. Hassall. _c_.. Hammond. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_... 33 M... He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something.. but his score. too. Lobs were being tried. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic. but an excellent eye.... and the next over. a slip of paper... DOWNING'S _Outwood's.. "Barnes!" "Please. as a matter of fact. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him.." snapped Mr. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force. But the next ball was bowled. You must declare your innings closed." "He's very touchy. First innings. _b_. "Barnes!" he called. as was only natural. there was on view... The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad. sir.. we can't unless Barnes does. not out..... Mike's pace had become slower. not out.." "It is perfect foolery.. The game has become a farce. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room.. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience. sir. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was..._ J..." said Stone.. was mounting steadily. as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. And now let's start _our_ innings..... Stone... P. "I think Barnes must have left the field... sir. There was no reply. just above the mantelpiece. J. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain. "This is foolery... Barnes.. nearly weeping with pure joy. Downing walked moodily to his place." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion. as who should say. He had an unorthodox style." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl.way." Mr." "This is absurd. 277 W.. a week later. and still Barnes made no sign. and the next after that.. "Capital." "Declare! Sir. Downing." "Absurd.

." he said. Downing. fagged as he was. "In an ordinary way. 37 ----Total (for one wicket)..." . it's worth it. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again." murmured Mike.. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries.. 471 Downing's did not bat. In fact. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel. When all ringing with song and merriment. Mike. Comrade Jellicoe and.... he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot.. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler. slipping his little hand in mine. But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue.... But your performance was cruelty to animals.. On the other hand.. could have been the Petted Hero." said he. from what I have seen of our bright little friend. touched me This interested Mike.. shifting his aching limbs in the chair.... I should say that..... and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day. One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects. would have made Job foam at the mouth.Extras. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe. I suppose. if he had cared to take the part.. in a small way. is. here and there.. for three quid... "In theory. not to mention three wides. CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night. "the the place was crept to my side.. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open. Twenty-eight off one over." "He doesn't deserve to." "I don't care.. felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week.. Psmith.. You will probably get sacked.. leaning against the mantelpiece. and Mike.. discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr... I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket.. as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind.

He felt very hot and uncomfortable. Jackson!" he said." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. Psmith chatted for general. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. I can't get to sleep. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. "I say. wrapped in gloom." Silence again. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. as the best substitute for sleep. the various points of his innings that day. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. "Are you asleep. He wanted four. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe. I'm stiff all over. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived." "Nor can I. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. but he could not sleep. . I'm pretty well cleaned out. I hope. Well. nothing." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. when he's collected enough for his needs." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. and then dropped gently off. He uttered no word for quite three minutes. It was done on the correspondence system. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. clinking sovereigns." * * * * * a log." There was a creaking. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. he'll pay me back a bit. who appeared to be to the conversation. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes.

And then you'd be sent into a bank. or something. After being sacked. I expect. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. or to Australia." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. Jackson? I say. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe." "Hullo?" "I say."Jackson." "Yes. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. "Hullo?" he said. Why?" "Oh. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon. Especially my pater. and you'd drive up to the house. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked. My mater would be sick. too. in order to give verisimilitude. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. and presently you'd hear them come in. "My pater would be frightfully sick. and all that. as it were. So would mine." "Everybody's would. But if you were. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. Have you got any sisters. My sister would be jolly sick." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. I suppose." Mike dozed off again. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. you know. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. and the servant would open the door. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. He was not really listening. Then he spoke again. I don't know. and you'd go in." "Happen when?" "When you got home. They might all be out. and you'd go out into the passage. and wait. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say." The bed creaked. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way. "Nobody. and then you'd have to hang about. I meant.

"Do _what_?" "I say. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. I asked if you'd got any. already looking about him for further loans." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. though people whom he liked . I shall get sacked if I don't get it. of other members of English public schools. Was it a hobby. Except on the cricket field. He resembled ninety per cent." "Any _what_?" "Sisters."Me--Jellicoe. This thing was too much. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody. where he was a natural genius. He changed the subject." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say." "Any what?" "Sisters. But it's jolly serious. "I say." said Jellicoe eagerly. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. look out. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. You'll wake Smith. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before. he was just ordinary. He had some virtues and a good many defects." Mike pondered. do you?" "What!" cried Mike." "Whose sisters?" "Yours. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon. He was as obstinate as a mule. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect.

Downing and his house realised this. Yesterday's performance. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. It was a particularly fine day. And Mr. but. Young blood had been shed overnight. Downing was a curious man in many ways. one good quality without any defect to balance it. And when he set himself to do this. He was always ready to help people. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. He was good-natured as a general thing. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. which made the matter worse. The thought depressed him. . and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. however. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. As Psmith had said. who had a sensitive ear. where the issue concerned only himself. it had to be done. The great match had not been an ordinary match. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. That would probably be unpleasant. stood in a class by itself. Where it was a case of saving a friend. Bob's postal order. in addition. He had. which had arrived that evening. To begin with. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. and had. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. in his childhood. In addition to this. Mr. till Psmith. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. Finally. he was in detention. It was a wrench. there was the interview with Mr. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. Downing to come. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. he had never felt stiffer in his life. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. Mr.could do as they pleased with him. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. He was rigidly truthful. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat.

Macpherson. more elusive. So Mr. "You are surrounded. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. sir. Far too commonplace!" Mr. works it off on the boy. in the excitement of this side-issue. When a master has got his knife into a boy. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's." "Please. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. of necessity. Downing laughed bitterly. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. By the time he had reached his peroration. which was as a suit of mail against satire. That is to say. And. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. Just as. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. Which Mike. in their experience of the orator. the user of it must be met half-way. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress.Mr. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. since the glorious day when Dunster. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . No. It would be too commonplace altogether. sir. you must conceal your capabilities. Mike. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. he began in a sarcastic strain." concluded Mr. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. did with much success. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. "No. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. that would not be dramatic enough for you. Downing. Mr. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. he was perfectly right. that prince of raggers. I have spoken of this before. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. As events turned out. the skipper." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. For sarcasm to be effective. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir." "Well. the speaker lost his inspiration. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. sir. when he has trouble with the crew. You must act a lie. at sea. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. no. Downing came down from the heights with a run. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers.

He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried." said Mike. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips. he prodded himself too energetically. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang. Dunster. "slamming about like that. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. To their left." said Mike. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way." "Awfully sorry. puts his hands over his skull. man. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. is not a little confusing. and rather embarrassingly grateful.at the pitch. Jellicoe was cheerful. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in. "I shall have to be going in." "I'll give you a hand. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground. Jellicoe hopping. ." "It's swelling up rather. on hearing the shout. Mike had strolled out by himself. "Awfully sorry. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. "or I'd have helped you over. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. you know. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude. "Silly ass. as they crossed the field. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. crouches down and trusts to luck. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon. The bright-blazered youth walked up. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion." said Dunster. uttering sharp howls whenever. zeal outrunning discretion. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. But I did yell. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened." he groaned. a long youth. The average person. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle.

Hullo! another man out. as he walked to the cricket field." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon. Is anything irritating you?" he added. and turning. The fifth ball bowled a man. "because Jellicoe wants to see you. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. "You needn't be a funny ass." sighed Psmith. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind." said Psmith. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest." . I have just been hearing the melancholy details. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. Before he got there he heard his name called. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to. Dunster gave dawg. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith." said Dunster. faithful below he did his duty. the darling of the crew. "More." "Old Smith and I." said Psmith. felt very much behind the times. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever. Comrade Jackson. "Return of the exile. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room. "more." said Dunster." "I heard about yesterday. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster. Mike." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano." said the animal delineator. I notice. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world. "were at a private school together. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's. Well hit. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. and when you have finished those. I'd no idea I should find him here." "Alas. man. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday." stirring sight when we met. Have a cherry?--take one or two. Mike made his way towards the pavilion. pained. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. fondling the beginnings of his moustache. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling. Restore your tissues. apply again." said Dunster. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of.

" "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" . "I hadn't heard. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. "it's too late. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. I like to feel that I am doing good. I shall get sacked. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much. "Oh! chuck it. "I say. "I mean. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room. at last. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. the sun was in my eyes.C."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat." "Has he?" said Psmith. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. not so much physical as mental. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory." said Psmith to Mike." "I shall count the minutes. Personally." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. it'll keep till tea-time." said Psmith.C. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse. Soliloquy is a knack. man." said Psmith. but probably only after years of patient practice. where he found the injured one in a parlous state. Hamlet had got it." said Jellicoe gloomily. I need some one to listen when I talk." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike. I suppose. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe." "Don't dream of moving. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M. he felt disinclined for exertion. do you?" he said. Mike stretched himself.

only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up."It's about that money." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. look here. "Oh. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here." "What absolute rot!" "But." said Mike." said Jellicoe miserably. Every village team. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught. do you think you could. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag. it's frightfully decent of you. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. I'll get out of the house after lights-out." "He's the chap I owe the money to." "It doesn't matter." "Yes. it can." "I say. "I say. hang it!" he said. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked. only I got crocked." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol. He was a large. stout man. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term." Jellicoe sat up. so I couldn't move." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. are you certain----" "I shall be all right. "I'm awfully sorry." "I say. called Lower Borlock. he was the wag of the village team. Barley filled the post. "it can't be helped. who looked . has its comic man. with a red and cheerful face. it's as easy as anything. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'. for some mysterious reason.

He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business. but I had a key made to fit it last summer. and if Jellicoe owed it. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time. He took the envelope containing the money without question. I think." "I say. which was unfortunate. I----" "Oh. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs. Besides. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. "if I can get into the shed. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . "I shall bike there." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion. there was nothing strange in Mr. and be full of the milk he was quite different. chuck it!" said Mike. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings." "I'll get it from him. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. Probably in business hours After all. five pounds is a large sum of money. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. "it's locked up at night. I won't tell him. but it did not occur to him to ask. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. another." he said. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness." said Jellicoe." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it. "You can manage that. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it." "All right.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama.

'ullo! Mr. However. sir?" said the boots. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. until he came to the inn. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. also. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. "Why. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. I've given you the main idea of the thing. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. with whom early rising was not a hobby. for many reasons. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. too. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. The advantage an inn has over a private house. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. being wishful to get the job done without delay. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. Mike would have been glad of a companion. Jackson was easy-going with his family. The place was shut. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. Still. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. of course. "One of the Georges. which. by the cricket field. Jackson. . there you are. Mr. Probably he would have volunteered to come. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. communicating with the boots' room. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. Psmith had yielded up the key. appearing in his shirt-sleeves." said Psmith. which for the time being has slipped my memory. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over.expulsion. Mike did not want to be expelled. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. "I forget which. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. "Yes.

Barley. and had another attack. perhaps." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. but rather for a solemn." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back. Barley. read it. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. "Dear. Jack." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. and wiped his eyes. . Jackson. Barley opened the letter. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said."I want to see Mr. "Oh dear!" he said. It was an occasion for rejoicing. thankful. the five pounds. who was waiting patiently by. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike." "The five--" Mr. "You can pop off." "I must see him. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house." "Oh. "What's up?" he asked. and requested him to read it. I've got some money to give to him. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. Jack. Then he collapsed into a chair. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. of course. which creaked under him. Mr. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. hoping for light. Mr. Jackson. and now he felt particularly fogged. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. if it's _that_--" said the boots. "Well. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing." Mr. dear!" chuckled Mr.

Mr. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. in fact. Jellicoe over this. "DEAR MR. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. took back the envelope with the five pounds. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. and the damage'll be five pounds. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. "Why. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. So I says to myself." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. they are. and as sharp as mustard. I hope it is in time. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. which I could not get before. always up to it. simply in order to satisfy Mr. it was signed "T. since. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. and rode off on his return journey." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. but to be placed in a dangerous position. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. Barley slapped his thigh. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there." There was some more to the same effect. is another matter altogether. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. Love us!" Mr.--"I send the £5. Barley's sense of humour. The other day. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. Aberdeen terriers. 'I'll have a game with Mr. BARLEY.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. the affair of old Tom Raxley. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. Jellicoe. but. Mischief! I believe you. about 'ar parse five. It would have been cruel to damp the man. Mr. Barley slapped his leg.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years." it ran. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. Jane--she's the worst of the two. last Wednesday it were. Mike. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. "he took it all in. finishing this curious document. Mike was . I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. G.

It was from the right-hand gate. Outwood's front garden. carried on up the water-pipe. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. after which he ran across to Outwood's. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. and running. With this knowledge. This he accomplished with success. and as he wheeled his machine in. nearest to Mr. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. The suddenness. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. On the first day of term. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. and gone to bed. and through the study window. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. Without waiting to discover what this might be. however. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. There were two gates to Mr. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. Mike felt easier in his mind. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. of which the house was the centre. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. Sergeant Collard . Downing's house. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. and. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. As he did so. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. his foot touched something on the floor. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. It was pitch-dark in the shed. his pursuer again gave tongue. that the voice had come. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. went out. and locked the door. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. as Mike came to the ground.to find this out for himself.

Like Mike. Meanwhile. His thoughts were miles away. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. Focussing his gaze. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. He ran on. . He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. and so to bed. Then the sound of footsteps returning. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. as Mike.was a man of many fine qualities. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. He left his cover. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. he sat on the steps. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. this was certainly the next best thing. passing through the gate. turned into the road that led to the school. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. "Is that you. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. He would have liked to be in bed. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. this time at a walk. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. at Wrykyn. The pursuer had given the thing up. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. disappeared as the runner. but Time. He would wait till a quarter past. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. if that was out of the question. instead of making for the pavilion. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. The other appeared startled. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. he was evidently possessed of a key. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. looking out on to the cricket field. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. shoot up the water-pipe once more. taking things easily. His programme now was simple. but. His first impression. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. but he could not run. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. They passed the gate and went on down the road. he supposed--on the school clock. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). with the sergeant panting in his wake. increasing his girth. A sound of panting was borne to him. turned aside. that he had been seen and followed. Having arrived there. Then he would trot softly back. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate.

with a cry of "Is that you. as a matter of fact. was a very fair stomach-ache. that MacPhee. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. But Mr. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. He was off like an . was disturbed in his mind. therefore. that Mike. was now standing at his front gate. Adair rode off. So long. half a cocoa-nut. Now it happened that Mr. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. three doughnuts. whistling between his teeth. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. One of the chaps in our house is bad. two ices. He had despatched Adair for the doctor. Adair?" The next moment Mr." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. Jackson?" "What are you. at a range of about two yards. He walked in that direction. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. Downing emerged from his gate. even if he had started to wait for him at the house." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. "I'm going for the doctor. conveyed to him by Adair. aroused from his first sleep by the news. an apple. He would be safe now in trying for home again. and. and washing the lot down with tea. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. The school clock struck the quarter. Downing. All that was wrong with MacPhee." Mike turned away."What are you doing out here. and a pound of cherries. It came about. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. waiting for Adair's return. and Mr. After a moment's pause." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

" "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. He did not want to smile. It was not his . you think?" "I am certain of it. no. only. The headmaster. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world. "One of the boys at the school. Downing. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. "He--he--_what_. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. Downing.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy." Mr. did want to smile. Mr. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. I suppose not. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice. instead of running about the road. He had a cold in the head. "Dear me!" he said. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. on the other hand. deeply interested. in spite of his strict orders. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken." said Mr. escaped and rushed into the road. He received the housemaster frostily. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. was not in the best of tempers. you say?" "Very big. A big boy. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. The Head. whoever he was. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. he wanted revenge." "No. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. taking advantage of the door being open. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. Mr. who. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. he went straight to the headmaster.

Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. Downing was left with the conviction that. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. with the exception of Johnson III.dog. of Outwood's. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. Outwood who helped him. It was only . "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. unidentified. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. the rest was comparatively easy. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. at the time. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. had seen. and passed it on to Mr. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school." Which he did. Downing. Outwood. if he wanted the criminal discovered. gave him a most magnificent start. as far as I understand. It was Mr. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. and Fate. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. not to mention cromlechs. I think. Downing as they walked back to lunch. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. Oh yes. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. Downing. Downing. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. "Not actually in.. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. and Mr. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. Downing was not listening. broke into a wild screech of laughter. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. and all the boys were asleep--all of them." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on. Downing. he would have to discover him for himself. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. Mr. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack." "Impossible. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy." Mr. who. but without result.

with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. which the latter was about to do unasked. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. but it finishes in time." "But you didn't catch him?" "No." he said. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. yer. sir. yer young monkey. Having requested his host to smoke. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. in order to ensure privacy. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. as a blind man could have told.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. Downing. sergeant. ejecting the family. sergeant?" "No. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run. I did. In due course Mr. Oo-oo-oo. "Oo-oo-oo. "I did. sir." "Ah!" ." he said." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. Downing stated his case. found himself at liberty. sir. Downing arrived. sir. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. Regardless of the claims of digestion. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. sir. sir--spotted 'im. and I doubles after 'im prompt. "Mr. "Did you catch sight of his face. he used to say. sir. he rushed forth on the trail. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. Dinner was just over when Mr. Dook of Connaught." admitted the sergeant reluctantly. "tells me that last night. Feeflee good at spottin'. I am. Outwood. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake.' he used to say. Mr.

and slept the sleep of the just. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once. sir.C. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. sir." he said. rubbing the point in." "Good-afternoon to you." "I hope not. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. I'm feeflee good at spottin'." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. on Wednesday. but it was a dark night. Very hot to-day. sir. Outwood's house." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. 'cos yer see. and exhibited clearly. the result of luck.C. to a very large extent. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. put a handkerchief over his face. success in the province of detective work must always be." Mr. Good afternoon. and dusted. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. sir."Bare-'eaded. The school plays the M. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses." And Mr. . with a label attached." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. having requested Mrs. is it not?" "Feeflee warm." "So do I. "Good-afternoon. sergeant. sir." "Pray do not move. "It was undoubtedly the same boy. "Well. sergeant." added the sergeant. if he persisted in making so much noise. while Sergeant Collard. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. rested his feet on the table. "I will find my way out. sergeant. Downing rose to go.

and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It certainly was uncommonly hard. Outwood's house. how--?" and all the rest of it. but. and his methods. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. if he only knew. As he brooded over the case in hand. All these things passed through Mr. saying: "My dear Holmes. We should simply have hung around. even and. now that he had started to handle his own first case." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. he thought. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. and leaves the next move to you. unless you knew who had really done the crime. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. but even if there had been only one other. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. tight-lipped smiles.The average man is a Doctor Watson. What he wanted was a clue." the boy does not reply. requested that way peculiar to some boys. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. There were. Mr. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. only a limited number of boys in Mr. a junior member of his house. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. having capped Mr. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. Probably. "Sir. this time in the shape of Riglett. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source. to detect anybody. shouting to him to pick them up. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. there were clues lying all over the place. If you go to a boy and say. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. of course. It is practically Stalemate. his sympathy for Dr. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. Watson increased with every minute. but. when Fate once more intervened. it would have complicated matters. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. as a matter of fact. we should have been just as dull ourselves. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. But if ever the emergency does arise. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. just as the downtrodden medico did. Mr.

Downing unlocked the door. he saw the clue. It was the ground-man's paint. Give Dr. to be considered. leaving Mr. In the first place. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. Downing remembered. Downing. Then Mr. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. And this was a particularly messy mess. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. stood first on his left foot. What he saw at first was not a Clue. "Pah!" said Mr. "and be careful where you tread. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. Then suddenly. Your careful detective must consider everything. Watson a fair start. extracted his bicycle from the rack. walking delicately through dry places. Mr. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr.bicycle from the shed. He felt for his bunch of keys. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . Watson could not have overlooked. and finally remarked. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. The air was full of the pungent scent. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. A foot-mark! No less. Yoicks! There were two things. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. "Get your bicycle. A foot-mark. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. Riglett. Red paint. Downing to mundane matters. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. beneath the disguise of the mess." Riglett. but just a mess. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. blushed. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon." he said. and made his way to the shed. Mr. however. The sound recalled Mr. Paint. Downing. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. now coughed plaintively. then on his right. Downing. Much thinking had made him irritable. and he is a demon at the game. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. Downing saw it. Mr. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated.

I suppose. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. and the ground-man came out in . Oh. You did not do that. This was the more probable of the two contingencies. His is the first you come to. He rapped at the door of the first. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. I didn't go into the shed at all. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. sir. but I could show you in a second." he said. Adair. Quite so. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. There's a barn just before you get to them. on returning to the house. There are three in a row." "It is spilt all over the floor. that there was paint on his boots. Adair." "I see. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. "Oh. "No. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. on the right as you turn out into the road. I shall be able to find them. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. His book had been interesting. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee. sir. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. don't get up.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. Things were moving. Thank you. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. by the way. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. sir." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. He could get the ground-man's address from him." "Thank you. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. Adair.

CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. sir?" "No. Outwood's house somewhere. thank you. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. ascertain its owner. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. Tell me. sir." "Just so. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. All he had to do was to go to Mr. with the result that it has been kicked over. "Oh. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. It was Sunday. Regardless of the heat. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. yes. That is all I wished to know. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. Quite so. sir? No. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. Makes it look shabby. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. He was hot on the scent now. Picture. Thank you. sir. The fact is. sir." "Do you want it. Markby. It wanted a lick of paint bad. sir. and spilt. The thing had become simple to a degree." "On the floor?" "On the floor. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company." Mr. as was indeed the case.his shirt-sleeves. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. Just as I thought. On the shelf at the far end. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. blinking as if he had just woke up. An excellent idea. Markby. too. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. You had better get some more to-morrow. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down. and denounce him to the headmaster. no. thank you." "Of course. Markby.

as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything. . I will be with you in about two ticks. found Mr. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. sir. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are. "I was an ass ever to try it. and said nothing. sir?" "Do as I tell you. so he merely inclined his head gracefully. sir." murmured Psmith courteously. Downing arrived. Downing. I wonder! Still." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. "There's a kid in France. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. "A warm afternoon. "Enough of this spoolery. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound. Smith." "'Tis well. "What the dickens. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories. no matter. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on." said Mike. who had just entered the house." "With acute pleasure. Outwood. and Psmith. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. "Or shall I fetch Mr. He is welcome to them. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times." said Mike disparagingly. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. What brings him round in this direction. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. as he passed. That is to say." said he." Mike walked on towards the field." said Psmith. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room." snapped Mr.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance.

baffled. "we have Barnes' dormitory. "The studies. Here we have----" Mr. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds." said Mr." he cried. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. Smith. sir?" he asked. "Is this impertinence studied. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough." said Psmith. An airy room. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles. An idea struck the master. "I beg your pardon. then moved on. "Show me the next dormitory. The master snorted suspiciously. Smith. "to keep your remarks to yourself. sir. Mr." Mr. I understand. That's further down the passage.Psmith said no more. Downing nodded. Smith?" "Ferguson's study. This is Barnes'. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. The matron being out. "I think he's out in the field. sir." They moved on up the passage. The observation escaped me unawares. "Shall I lead the way. . sir. "This. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. Psmith waited patiently by." said Psmith. "Aha!" said Psmith. opening a door. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. panting slightly. Mr. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. having examined the last bed. sir." "I was only wondering. sir? No. Drawing blank at the last dormitory." he said. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. but went down to the matron's room. Downing paused. "Are you looking for Barnes. "Excuse me. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity. Mr." Mr. crimson in the face with the exercise. Downing looked at him closely." said Psmith. Smith. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. sir. Each boy. Downing stopped short. Downing with asperity. "Here. Downing rose. It is Mr.

Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. sir. "The trees. even in the dusk. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. they go out extremely quickly. sir. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . sir. No. sir. "Have you no bars to your windows here." Mr. Downing suddenly started. "This." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do." said Mr. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment."Whose is this?" he asked." Mr. that Mr. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study." "Ah! Thank you. Downing pondered. "Whom did you say you shared this study with." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes." "Not at all. The cricketer. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar. rapping a door. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window. sir. And. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy. "No. Smith." "I think. the field. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. is mine and Jackson's. Smith?" "Jackson." said Psmith. Smith. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze. sir. the distant hills----" Mr. sir?" said Psmith. "A lovely view." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. Downing raked the room with a keen eye." "Never mind about his cricket. sir. putting up his eyeglass. Downing with irritation. sir. is it not.

painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. sir--no. or it might mean that he had been out all the time. sir. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. Edmund. Downing. collects them. Such a moment came to Mr. sir. "His boots." "Smith. It was a fine performance. at early dawn. and bent once more to his task. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up. by a devious and snaky route. he was certain." said Psmith affably. I noticed them as he went out just now. prompting these manoeuvres. sir? He has them on." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself." he said. Mr. he did not know. he would have achieved his object. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded. "We have here. Psmith leaned against the wall. our genial knife-and-boot boy. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. If he had been wise. Smith?" "Not one. I believe. "I should say at a venture. Mr. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. that they would be in the basket downstairs. Psmith had noticed. Downing knelt on the floor beside . "a fair selection of our various bootings. sir. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. trembling with excitement. Boots flew about the room. Downing looked up." Mr." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. But that there was something. As it was.in his life. "On the spot. and straightened out the damaged garment. "go and bring that basket to me here. and dumped is down on the study floor. Downing then." said Mr. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. he rushed straight on." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. Downing stooped eagerly over it." Mr. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. "Smith!" he said excitedly. sir.

Downing had finished. Smith. carrying a dirty boot. "I think it would be best. Downing made his way. After a moment Psmith followed him." Mr. "No. The ex-Etonian. Psmith looked at it again. "Ah. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot." "Shall I carry it. one puts two and two together. "Indeed?" he said. sir?" Mr. He knew nothing. when Mr. It was "Brown. Psmith took the boot. Bridgnorth. sir. The headmaster was in his garden. sir?" "Certainly not. "Put those back again. ." "Shall I put back that boot. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. on the following day.the basket. boot-maker. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. In his hand he held a boot." he said. Leave the basket here. Downing. of course. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. might be a trifle undignified. understood what before had puzzled him. Downing reflected. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. sir. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me." he said. then. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. with an exclamation of triumph. At last he made a dive." he said. Thither Mr. rising. "That's the lot. "Yes. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. rose to his feet. of course. and doing so." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway." "Come with me. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. and. Smith. began to pick up the scattered footgear. You can carry it back when you return. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed." as he did so. Downing left the room. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. and when. I shall take this with me.

Smith. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. "who was remarkably subject----" . I fancy. red or otherwise. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. you say. sir. "You must have made a mistake. Just Mr. Psmith. it was absolutely and entirely innocent. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe." said the headmaster. "There was paint on this boot. It was a broad splash right across the toe. Smith will bear me out in this."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. Downing was the first to break the silence. the cynosure of all eyes. Downing. putting up his eyeglass. Mr. "now let me so.." he said vehemently. er. Of any suspicion of paint. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. Just. sir. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. Mr." "This is foolery. I saw it with my own eyes.." said Psmith chattily. Mr. These momentary optical delusions are. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. putting on a pair of look at--This. not uncommon. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest. is the--? Just so. Downing. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. I brought it on purpose to show to you. But." The headmaster interposed. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care. this boot with exactly where Mr. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. fixed stare.. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. There was no paint on this boot.

he did not look long at the boot. Smith." said the headmaster. Smith." "Exactly." "It is undoubtedly black now. sir?" said Psmith. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance." said Mr. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. with simple dignity. really. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. Downing recollects. had not time to fade." said the headmaster. Downing looked searchingly at him. I remember thinking myself. "for pleasure. "What did you say. "You had better be careful." "Yes. Downing. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. sir. I can assure you that it does not brush off." "Really. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. "Well. if I may----?" "Certainly. Mr. sir. Smith. Mr. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. Downing." murmured Psmith. consequently. Mr. The afternoon sun. The goaded housemaster turned on him. sir. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own. sir. If Mr." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. "My theory. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. Shall I take the boot with me. I cannot have been mistaken. The picture on the retina of the eye." "You are very right. "My theory. Downing. sir." "A sort of chameleon boot. sir?" . streaming in through the window." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed."It is absurd. at the moment. Smith?" "Did I speak. is that Mr." "I am reading it. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot." said Psmith. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house. "May I go now." said Psmith. "that is surely improbable. Downing shortly." said Psmith with benevolent approval.

and rose to assist him. Downing. if they had but known it." he said. were friends." he said. and turning in at Outwood's gate. the spectacle of Psmith running. Smith. The scrutiny irritated Mr. Psmith. Downing appeared. Downing was brisk and peremptory. Psmith and Mike. The possibility. and the latter." . left the garden. sir?" "Yes. laid down his novel. he raced down the road. "That thing. Outwood's at that moment saw what." Psmith sat down again. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. and Mr. he. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word."If Mr. in fact the probability. "I can manage without your help. On this occasion. with a sigh. too. Mr. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. "I wish to look at these boots again. Put it away. hurried over to Outwood's." said the housemaster. he reflected. "Sit down. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. having included both masters in a kindly smile. Without brain. and lock the cupboard. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. was a most unusual sight. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. Smith. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. where are we? In the soup. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket." he said to himself approvingly. On arriving at the study. "Put that thing away. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. every time. however. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. "Brain. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. that ridiculous glass.

and his chin on his hands. and Mr." "May I read. who. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way. After the second search." "Open it. "Yes. sir. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common. sir. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while. Nothing of value or interest. after fidgeting for a few moments." "I think you will find that it is locked. Downing. There was very little cover there. Possibly an old note-book." "Thank you. He went through it twice. he stood up. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. "Don't sit there staring at me. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. read if you like. lodged another complaint. of harbouring the quarry. He rested his elbows on his knees. sir. sir. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. but each time without success. now thoroughly irritated. sir. Downing rapped the door irritably. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. "Yes. and looked wildly round the room. Smith." Mr. We do not often use it." Psmith took up his book again. His eye roamed about the room." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket." "I guessed that that was the reason. Then he caught sight of the cupboard." . A ball of string. sir?" "Yes." "I was interested in what you were doing."Why. sir?" asked Psmith. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. "Just a few odd trifles. The floor could be acquitted. on sight. "Smith!" he said. patiently. perhaps." "Never mind. This cupboard.

He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. Jackson might have taken it. staring into vacancy. And he knew that. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that." he said shortly. Downing thought for a moment. amazed. But when it came to breaking up his furniture." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. Outwood. Smith would be alone in the room."Unlock it. sir. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with. if Smith were left alone in the room. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. "Smith. "go and find Mr. If you wish to break it open." "But where is the key." Mr. sir. And I know it's not Mr. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me. I am only the acting manager. sir. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. I shall break open the door. "I don't believe a word of it." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. Smith?" he inquired acidly. sir. Then he was seized with a happy idea. perhaps----! On the other hand. you must get his permission. "Are you aware whom you are talking to." Mr. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard. to whom that cupboard happens to belong. "Yes. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. Outwood. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. Mr. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key." Mr. He also reflected. Outwood. Downing stared." he said. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith." Psmith got up. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr. Downing paused. and ask him to be good .

Outwood at once. Mr. Outwood. Smith. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility." "one cannot. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. "Yes." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences." he continued." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. I say to myself. to take a parallel case. Smith. Outwood. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. ha. who resumed the conversation. sir. I would do the rest. "I take my stand. Downing's voice was steely." he said. Mr. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture.enough to come here for a moment. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. So in my case. sir. 'Psmith. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. "Go and find Mr. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. however. "Do you intend to disobey me. "on a technical point. "_Quick_. sir." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. "Thwarted to me face. 'Mr. and come back and say to me. as who should say. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. Smith?" Mr. "If you will let me explain. and explain to him how matters stand. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. His manner was almost too respectful. One cannot. If you will go to Mr. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. Outwood's house. But in Mr. I ought to have remembered that before. as if he had been asked a conundrum." he said." "What!" "Yes." Psmith still made no move. your word would be law. If you pressed a button. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . "Let us be reasonable. I would fly to do your bidding. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say.

as the footsteps died away. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. "Smith. Outwood. he went to the window. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. "I have been washing my hands." added Mr. Downing suspiciously. unlocked the cupboard. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. He tied the other end of the string to this. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. Smith." "My dear Outwood. On a level with the sill the water-pipe. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear. Smith?" asked Mr. there will be a boot there when you return. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard. sir. "Where have you been." snapped the sleuth. "Very well. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill. I shall not tell you again. Outwood. and took out the boot. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. Downing wishes me to do. and with him Mr. Outwood. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. blackening his hand. "Yes. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. When he returned. Downing was in the study. You see my difficulty. the latter looking dazed. Placing this in the cupboard." "H'm!" said Mr. when it had stopped swinging." Mr. A shower of soot fell into the grate. he re-locked the door. at any rate.study. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. and thrust it up the chimney. He noticed with approval. Downing stalked out of the room. and. "But. Downing sharply." said Mr." added Psmith pensively to himself. Smith." . Mr." "I can assure you. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. sir.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. and washed off the soot. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face." why he should not do so if he wishes it. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. Then he turned to the boot. He went there." He took the key from his pocket. and let the boot swing free. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. Outwood with spirit.

as Smith declares that he has lost the key. Downing seized one of these." said Psmith. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. Downing?" interrupted Mr. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr." he said. "This is not the boot. Let me see. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. and tore the boot from its resting-place. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor. my dear Outwood. Downing uttered a cry of triumph. approvingly. Now. "I told you. with any skeletons it might contain. and painted my dog Sampson red. "We must humour him." he said. Outwood. "I've been looking for it for days. glaring at Psmith. Downing was examining his find. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now. Outwood started. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. do you understand?" Mr. Have you any objection?" Mr." he added helpfully. "I told you. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. "Objection? None at all." Mr. round-eyed. Mr. The cupboard. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment." "I wondered where that boot had got to. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . Outwood." said Mr. sir." "He painted--!" said Mr. "Did you place that boot there. "to be free from paint. he did. if you look at it sideways. none at all. belonging to Mike. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This. "This boot has no paint on it. Smith?" "I must have done. Mr." said Psmith sympathetically." "It certainly appears. "You have touched the spot. Psmith'a expression said. Then."Exactly. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. He never used them. Downing shortly." "So with your permission. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door. sir. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. At any rate. Outwood with asperity. The wood splintered. my dear fellow. "Why?" "I don't know why. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. Last night a boy broke out of your house." said Psmith." "If I must explain again. was open for all to view.

he used the sooty hand. Smith.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. Unfortunately." argued Psmith. Apply them. Downing laughed grimly. Downing's eye. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. and a thrill went through him. my dear Watson." said Psmith. baffled. Smith. sir." Mr. hard knock. A little more. "Animal spirits. once more. Downing a good. Outwood had the grate.") Mr. SMITH?"] "Yes. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. from earth to heaven. and one could imagine him giving Mr. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. sir. It should have been done before. You were not quite clever enough." "No. though. "WHAT!" . sir. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods. "I thought as much." "It's been great fun. You have done yourself no good by it." he said. He bent down to "Dear me. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. "Fun!" Mr. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. Smith?" he asked slowly. "Ah." "You would have done better. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. and thrust an arm up into the unknown." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. sir. Outwood off his feet. But his brain was chance remark of Mr. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. Downing. nearly knocking Mr." he said. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. Mr. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. not to have given me all this trouble." said Psmith patiently. He looked up. after all. "We all make mistakes. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE. but he ignored it. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel.

It had been trying. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. you present a most curious appearance. quite covered." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. Downing had found the other." he said. You are quite black. though one can guess roughly. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. "My dear Downing. It was the knock-out." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect." said Psmith. Mr." What Mr. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. he saw. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. just as he was opening his mouth. for the time being." he said. my dear fellow. Psmith went to the window. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. and sponges. until he should have thought out a scheme. For. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. most. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding."Animal spirits. positively. and it was improbable that Mr. but on the whole it had been worth it. Smith. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. for a man of refinement. sir. It seemed to him that. at the back of the house. "I say you will hear more of it. at about the same height where Mr. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. as he had said. accordingly. Let me show you the way to my room. It is positively covered with soot. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. worked in some mysterious cell. the boot-boy. soap. and it had cut into his afternoon." Then he allowed Mr. "your face. intervened. "You will hear more of this. Mr. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. Outwood. It would take a lot of cleaning. far from the madding crowd. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. "Soot!" "Your face is covered. he took the count. * * * * * When they had gone. he went up to the study again. In the language of the Ring. The boot-cupboard was empty. of course. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. Really. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. Edmund. . and hauled in the string. His fears were realised. He went down beneath it. sir. Having restored the basket to its proper place. You must come and wash it. Nobody would think of looking there a second time.

"One? What's the good of that. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. I mean--Oh. There is no real reason why. "No. the thing creates a perfect sensation.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. Psmith was no exception to the rule. for instance. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. dash it. "I may have lost a boot. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. Edmund. which one observes naturally and without thinking." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. Mr. Jackson. There was nothing. Jackson. "Great Scott. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. It was not altogether forgetfulness. but. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found. "Well. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. So Psmith kept his own counsel. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. Edmund. sir. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. had no views on the subject. Mr. But. "Jones. I can still understand sound reasoning." "Well." he said. there's the bell. if the day is fine. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. if he does. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn. should he prefer them. "'Ere's one of 'em. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise." Edmund turned this over in his mind. and then said." as much as to say." replied Edmund to both questions. he should not wear shoes. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. So in the case of boots. At a school. to be gained from telling Mike. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. he thought. thank goodness. Boys say.

he told him to start translating. They cannot see it. had regarded Mike with respect. Stone.. looking on them. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. sir?" said Mike. Mike. as worms. Satire. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. Mr.. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. On one occasion. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. Mr. abuse. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. But.. Downing who gave trouble. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. Downing's lips. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. called his name. but they feel it in their bones. or else to pull one of them off. Downing." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. Then. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. was taken unawares." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. He said "Yes. "Yes. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters. sir. stiffening like a pointer. He waged war remorselessly against shoes. he floundered hopelessly." mechanically. turning to Stone. accordingly. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities.shoes. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. It was only Mr. leaning back against the next row of desks. Jackson?" "Pumps. yes. of a vivid crimson. and the form. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. and finally "That will do. as he usually did. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. sir. with a few exceptions. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. "I have lost one of my boots. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. lines. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. and the subsequent proceedings.

match on the Wednesday. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance. it is no joke taking a high catch. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. with the explanation that he had lost a boot. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. however. Mr." "Personally. came to a momentous decision. Downing's mind was in a whirl. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. "I don't intend to stick it. sir. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good." "I shouldn't wonder. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice. I mean. "It's all rot. compared with Mike's. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. Mike himself. His case was complete. "Wal. Until the sun has really got to work. he gathered up his gown. and had caught catches and fielded drives which." . in the cool morning air. completed the chain. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike." said Robinson. and no strain. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. and sped to the headmaster. As a rule." said Stone. consequently. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. jumping on board. Rushing about on an empty stomach.C. said. which nobody objects to. to wit. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. Downing feel at that moment. and all that sort of thing. yawning and heavy-eyed. gnawing his bun. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. Mike's appearance in shoes. In view of the M. and the first American interviewer. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. that searching test of cricket keenness. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided.C.returned." said Stone. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. They played well enough when on the field. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents.

As a rule he had ten minutes with the . but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs." At this moment Adair came into the shop. If he does. You two must buck up.C. consequently. after all? Only kick us out of the team. Taking it all round. At breakfast that morning thought. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow." he said briskly." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. it's such absolute rot. The majority. and the chance of making runs greater." And he passed on. are easily handled. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind. Downing. but in reality he has only one weapon. then he finds himself in a difficult position. he'd better find somebody else. "Rather. With the majority. "at six. He can't play the M." "I mean. "He can do what he likes about it.C. either. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case." Their position was a strong one."Nor do I." "Yes." "All right. the keenness of those under him. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school. with a scratch team. "Let's. leaving the two malcontents speechless." "Nor do I. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for. as they left the shop. wherever and however made. questioned on the subject. Barnes. Besides. The result of all this was that Adair. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. of course. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. who his right." "I don't think he will kick us out." he said. practically helpless. You were rotten to-day. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. found himself two short. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. what can he do." said Robinson. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. unless he is a man of action. Stone was the first to recover. you know. Barnes was among those present. Stone and Robinson felt secure. Which was not a great help. And I don't mind that. had no information to give. and. Mr.

daily paper before the bell rang. We didn't give it the chance to. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself. I suppose?" "That's just the word." "Sorry it bored you. . He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. "We didn't turn up. To-day. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal. He resolved to interview the absentees. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson." "Oh?" "Yes. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. He never shirked anything. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room. physical or moral. who." he said. however. "Sorry. "We decided not to. Adair!" "Don't mention it. "Hullo." said Stone. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. Stone spoke. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. not having seen the paper." "It didn't. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties." Robinson laughed appreciatively. who left the lead to Stone in all matters. "I know you didn't. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects." Adair's manner became ominously calm. "You were rather fed-up. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. Many captains might have passed the thing over. said nothing. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding.

" said the junior partner in the firm." "Well. Nor Robinson?" "No." said Adair quietly. "Right. "It's no good making a row about it. Shall we go on?" . Robinson?" asked Adair. you can kick us out of the team." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No. as you seem to like lying in bed. you're going to to-morrow morning." "You don't think there is? You may be right. with some haste. but he said it without any deep conviction. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. You must see that you can't do anything." "Good. if you like." "You can turn out if you feel like it. and knocked him down. I'll give you till five past six. I think you are." said Stone. "I was only thinking of something. and was standing in the middle of the open space." said Robinson. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes. Adair." "Don't be an ass." Stone intervened. We'll play for the school all right. but we don't care if you do." "That's only your opinion. So we're all right. Don't be late." "That'll be a disappointment. Adair had pushed the table back." "I'll give you something else to think about soon. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you. Adair. You won't find me there. Of course. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row. "I wasn't ready. All the same. He was up again in a moment." "What!" "Six sharp. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. We've told you we aren't going to. you are now. "There's no joke. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort." said Stone."What's the joke. "You cad.

"Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain." "Good. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going . so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. But science tells." "I'll go and see." Stone made no reply." said Adair. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show. "You don't happen to know if he's in. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction. but he was cooler and quicker. and he knew more about the game." said Adair. He was not altogether a coward. "All right." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone." said Stone. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy." he said hastily. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. I don't know if he's still there. and it did not take him long to make up his mind.Stone dashed in without a word." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table. even in a confined space. "All right. "Thanks. How about you." said Adair. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. "Thanks. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. "I'll turn up.

the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. which had been ebbing during the past few days. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable. returned with a rush. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. In fact. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. and went on reading. Since this calamity. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. The Incogs. * * * * * Psmith. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. This was one of them. said Strachan." he said.C. He's had a . The M. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. Altogether. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. And it was at this point. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer. was off. "If you ask my candid opinion. fortunately.C. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. A broken arm. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. The Ripton match. Which. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets.. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. Mike mourned over his suffering school.on below stairs. led by Mike's brother Reggie. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. including Dixon. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. that Adair. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. It might have made all the difference. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. entered the room. everything had gone wrong. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. In school cricket one good batsman. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. when his resentment was at its height. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. looking up from his paper. was hard lines on Ripton. wrote Strachan. Psmith was the first to speak. If only he could have been there to help. the fast bowler.

after a prolonged inspection. "is right. the poacher. but it was pretty lively while it did. Care to see the paper. Speed is the key-note of the present age. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. We must Do It Now. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson." said Psmith approvingly." ." Mike got up out of his chair. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school. too. "I'm not the man I was." "What do you want?" said Mike." Psmith turned away. For some reason. We must be strenuous. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute. "We weren't exactly idle." he said. We----" "Buck up. This is no time for loitering. Shakespeare. "It didn't last long.C." said Mike. I thought that you and he were like brothers. It won't take long. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. We would brood. go thee." said Psmith. Adair. the Pride of the School. dark circles beneath my eyes. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing." "That. knave. "Surely. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson." said Adair. "I'll tell you in a minute. which might possibly be made dear later." "Fate.C." said Adair grimly. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. The fact that the M. We must hustle." said Adair. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. I bet Long Jack." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour. Adair was looking for trouble. He could not quite follow what all this was about.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice. I'll none of thee. "Certainly." he sighed." said Psmith. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. "There are lines on my face. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. Despatch. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it. sitting before you. Stone chucked it after the first round. Oh. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass. "has led your footsteps to the right place. Leave us. is waiting there with a sandbag. Promptitude. That is Comrade Jackson. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner.

so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M. so we argued it out. rather. "So are you." "I don't think so.said Adair. to-morrow. He's going to all right. However.C." Mike remained silent. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. "are a bit close together. So is Robinson. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike. and Adair looked at Mike. "I'm going to make you." he added philosophically. turning to Mike.C. There was an electric silence in the study. "I am. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think." added Adair. Mike looked at Adair." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another. and I want you to get some practice. isn't it?" "Very. You aren't building on it much. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. "it's too late to alter that now." "My eyes.?" he asked curiously." Mike took another step forward. He said he wouldn't." said Psmith regretfully. stepped between them. I know. Adair moved to meet him. "What makes you think I shall play against the M." replied Adair with equal courtesy. turning from the glass. "I get thinner and thinner. Mike said nothing.C. and in that second Psmith." Mike drew a step closer to Adair. are you?" said Mike politely. "Oh?" said Mike at last. ." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes.C." said Psmith from the mantelpiece.

he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair." said Mike. Up to the moment when "time" was called. Directly Psmith called "time. Smith. Time. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. If you really feel that you want to scrap. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments. where you can scrap all night if you want to. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. If Adair had kept away and used his head. a mere unscientific scramble. I suppose you must. In a fight each party. "The rounds. and are consequently brief and furious. with a minute rest in between. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. nothing could have prevented him winning. But school fights. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. one does not dislike one's opponent. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. The latter was a clever boxer. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. . Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. It was this that saved Mike. one was probably warmly attached to him. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. On the present occasion. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. then. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. I don't want all the study furniture smashed." After which. as a rule. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. only a few yards down the road. Dramatically." he said placidly. In an ordinary contest with the gloves. In a boxing competition. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. I lodge a protest." he said. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. without his guiding hand. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. "will be of three minutes' duration. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. however much one may want to win. what would have been." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. hates the other. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. "My dear young friends. Are you ready. producing a watch."Get out of the light. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise.

. but Jackson. We may take that. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. and then Adair went down in a heap. He rose full of fight. I shouldn't stop. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. do you think?" asked Mike. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. If it's going to be continued in our next. Mike had the greater strength. so he hit out with all his strength. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. coming forward. He went in at Mike with both hands. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. after all. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him." "Is he hurt much. "but exciting. which would do him no earthly good. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. "Brief. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. "_He's_ all right. now rendered him reckless. if I were you. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. that there was something to be said for his point of view. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. The Irish blood in him. and he was all but knocked out. and. but with all the science knocked out of him. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. as anybody looking on would have seen. You go away and pick flowers. he knew. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him.As it was. he threw away his advantages. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. Jackson. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. however. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see. in the course of which Mike's left elbow." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. Psmith saw. In the excitement of a fight--which is. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man." said Psmith. thirty seconds from the start. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. There was a swift exchange of blows. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. This finished Adair's chances. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. the cricketer. At the same time. I think. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. Mike could not see this. He got up slowly and with difficulty. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. that Adair was done. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. Mike Jackson. the deliverer of knock-out blows. was strange to him. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. The feat presented that interesting person. I'll look after him. Then he lurched forward at Mike." said Psmith. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion.

is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. "Look here. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. in fact." said Mike indignantly. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. However.C. but every one to his taste. It revolutionised Mike's view of things.' game. You didn't. As a start. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. had the result which most fights have. and drained the bad blood out of him. We have been chatting. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. He's not a bad cove. why not?" . when Psmith entered the study. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it. It shook him up. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. after much earnest thought. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. not afraid of work. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. My eloquence convinced him. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. There was a pause." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. of course?" "Of course not." he said. Jones. if possible. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more.C. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. to return to the point under discussion. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. It's not a bad idea in its way.The fight. Where." "He's all right. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. before. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. He had come to this conclusion. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home." continued Psmith. "Sha'n't play. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up. to a certain extent. Psmith straightened his tie. And as he's leaving at the end of the term." said Mike. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath.

" "----Dismiss it. breathing on a coat-button. But when the cricket season came. "You're what? You?" "I. little by little." "You're rotting. _I_ am playing. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night. and polishing it with his handkerchief." Mike stared. but it was not to be." said Psmith. "my secret sorrow. I hate to think. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so. You said you only liked watching it. However----" . that I had found a haven of rest. but look here. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life. Smith. and after a while I gave up the struggle. when I came here. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass. but it was useless. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. where was I? Gone. Comrade Jackson." "Quite right. "If your trouble is. I fought against it. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating. And in time the thing becomes a habit." "No. Last year. I do. What Comrade Outwood will say. I did think. and drifted with the stream. I turn out to-morrow." said Psmith."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock." "But you told me you didn't like cricket. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket." said Psmith. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered." "You wrong me. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. bar rotting.

Here was he. broke in earnest. therefore. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven. but useless to anybody who values life.C. Close the door gently after you. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. Downing's and going to Adair's study. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. "By Jove. "there won't be a match at all . The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. but he read Psmith's mind now. and ran back to Outwood's." "I say. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do. He's sprained his wrist. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. Psmith whimsically. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. Adair won't be there himself. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player. Since the term began." On arriving at Mr. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. it went. the recalcitrant.C. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh." "That's all right. You won't have to. He was not by nature intuitive. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance. as the storm. I'll play. Anyhow. Mike turned up his coat-collar. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. I'll go round. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. And they had both worked it off. I'll write a note to Adair now. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow. "if you're playing. It's nothing bad. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me." he said. But." he said to himself. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. "At this rate. wavering on the point of playing for the school. I don't know. A moment later there was a continuous patter. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match. Then in a flash Mike understood. which had been gathering all day. He's not playing against the M. If Psmith. and here was Psmith. A spot of rain fell on his hand." "Not a bad scheme. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide.

" "I hate having to hurry over to school. We've got plenty of time. with discoloured buckskin boots. "About nine to." "Oh. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school. met Adair at Downing's gate. . Mike." "Yes. to show what it can do in another direction." * * * * * When the weather decides. though. after behaving well for some weeks. shouldn't you?" "Not much more. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness. it does the thing thoroughly. if one didn't hurry. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping. in the gentle.to-morrow." "So do I." "Beastly. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen. Might be three." "I often do cut it rather fine. They walked on in silence. So do I. crawl miserably about the field in couples. and then the rain began again. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet. "Right ho!" said Adair. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly." Another silence. damp and depressed. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it. "It's only about ten to." "Beastly nuisance when one does. while figures in mackintoshes. isn't it?" said Mike." "Yes. I should think. yes. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. These moments are always difficult. Adair fished out his watch." "Good. Three if one didn't hurry." "Yes.

Adair produced his watch once more. "I don't know." "Yes. with his height. no. no. "awfully sorry about your wrist. "Rotten. no.." "Oh. It looks pretty bad. Less.. "Five to." "Oh. Smith turning out to be a cricketer. scowling at his toes. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week.. rot." "Does it hurt?" "Oh. rather not." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself." said Adair.. It was only right at the end.." "I bet you I shouldn't." "Now that you and Smith are going to play." Silence again. thanks awfully for saying you'd play. I say." "We've heaps of time." said Mike."Beastly day. rot. It was my fault.." "I bet you anything you like you would. doesn't it?" "Rotten. probably. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully. just before the match." "Oh.." "Oh.." "Oh. I should think he'd be a hot bowler. I say." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year. Jolly hard luck. that's all right. we ought to have a jolly good season." "Rummy." "Good.. "I say. that's all right. thanks." "What's the time?" asked Mike." "Yes." . You'd have smashed me anyhow.

he does so by belittling himself and his belongings. no. isn't it?" or words to that effect. and blundered into a denunciation of the place. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea." "It was rotten enough. and come to a small school like this." "Of course not. I know. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. Mike." Adair shuffled awkwardly."Yes. not playing myself. "I say. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across." "He never even asked me to get him a place. So they ought to be. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. "What rot!" he said. . I wouldn't have done it. He eluded the pitfall. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment. heaps. I know. rotten little hole. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have. Everybody's as keen as blazes." "Oh. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say." "No. as it were: for now. really. no. fortunately. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. after the way you've sweated. It was only for a bit. "Yes." "No. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road." "I didn't want to play myself. Smith told me you couldn't have done. that's all right. for the second time in two days." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up." "Of course. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness. even if he had. on the Chinese principle.

" For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. there's the bell. anyhow. We sha'n't get a game to-day. I don't know which I'd least soon be. when you get to know him. we've got a jolly hot lot. You'd better get changed." said Adair." he said. and really. They'd simply laugh at you. now that you and Smith are turning out. We'd better be moving on." "He isn't a bad sort of chap. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. then." "What! They wouldn't play us. I wish we could play. I'm not sure that I care much. I never thought of it before."I've always been fairly keen on the place. who doesn't count. Hullo. of anything like it. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. they're worse. and it would be rather rot playing it without you. because I'm certain. They began to laugh. "if that's any comfort to you. I got about half a pint down my neck just then. As you're crocked. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. so I don't see anything of him all day. I must have looked rotten. You see. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. and the bowling isn't so bad. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record. we'd walk into them. with you and Smith.C. at the interval. As for the schools. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. I've never had the gloves on in my life. lot a really good hammering. "By jove." said Mike." . "I can't have done. There's quite decent batting all the way through. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season." "It might clear before eleven. which won't hurt me. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. with a grin. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much.C." Mike stopped. My jaw still aches. If only we could have given this M. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. They probably aren't sending down much of a team." "You've loosened one of my front teeth. Dash this rain. We've got math." "I don't know that so much. You've been sweating for years to get the match on. till the interval. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle." "All right. and hang about in case. Downing or a black-beetle. "_You_ were all right.

'" . "this incessant demand for you. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum.C. edge away. After which the M. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. The whisper flies round the clubs. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. We'll smash them. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness. The two teams. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. regretfully agreed. and would be glad if Mike would step across. Downing. Mike. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. So they've got a vacant date. 'Psmith is baffled. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. they would. Meanwhile.C." said Psmith. and the first Sedleigh _v_. wandering back to the house. You come and have a shot. without looking up. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. captain. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning." Mike changed quickly. At least. yesterday. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. he worked at it both in and out of school."Yes. Mr. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. match was accordingly scratched. and went off. leaving Psmith. Mike and Psmith. That's the worst of being popular. The messenger did not know. "A nuisance. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision." he said at last. approaching Adair. To which Adair." said Psmith. was agitated. M. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house.C. "By Jove.C. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. after hanging about dismally. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. If he wants you to stop to tea. if you like. had not confided in him. it seemed. I'm pretty sure they would. the captain. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. And they aren't strong this year. with a message that Mr. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. For the moment I am baffled. I had a letter from Strachan.

and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. "My dear man. He as good as asked me to. . Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly. pretty nearly." "I know." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing. dash it. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did. As far as I can see. he's been crawling about. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened. by the way?" asked Psmith."The man's an absolute drivelling ass. The thing's a stand-off. you know all about that. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. Give you a nice start in life. But. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't. "Which it was. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. "No." said Mike shortly." "_Did_ you. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best. I believe he's off his nut. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg." said Psmith. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right." "Evidence!" said Mike." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots. "I didn't. "Me." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle." said Mike warmly." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act." "He thinks I did it." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut.

It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it. meaning to save you unpleasantness." said Psmith. I have landed you. if any. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him." said Psmith. sickening thud. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. It is red paint. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. In my simple zeal. That's how he spotted me. right in the cart." "I don't know what the game is.Why." said Mike. and is hiding it somewhere. But what makes him think that the boot. and it's nowhere about." said Psmith. and reach up the chimney. and glared at it. "It _is_." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender. Be a man. . That's what makes it so jolly awkward. "your boot. Psmith listened attentively. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily. It must have been the paint-pot. 'tis not blood." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. Of course I've got two pairs. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone. "Comrade Jackson." "Yes. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. "Say on!" "Well. so he thinks it's me." he said mournfully." Psmith sighed. it was like this. but one's being soled." "It is true. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint. with a dull. you were with him when he came and looked for them. kneeling beside the fender and groping. Get it over. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on.] "It's my boot!" he said at last.

too. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. So. by any chance." he admitted. in a moment of absent-mindedness. then. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. I hope you'll be able to think of something. "It _is_ a tightish place. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward." "Possibly." "What exactly. I suppose not. I _am_ in the cart. I take it. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. collecting a gang."This." "Probably. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me. in connection with this painful affair." said Psmith." "Sufficient." "_He'll_ want you to confess." Psmith pondered. so to speak. and he said very well. I will think over the matter." "I suppose not. they're bound to guess why. The worst of it is. are the same. taking it all round. inspecting it with disfavour." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. That was why I rang the alarm bell." asked Psmith. or some rot. "quite sufficient. I say. I can't. you can't prove an alibi. he must take steps. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. Downing chased me that night." . You never know. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing. you see. I shall get landed both ways. This needs thought. and--well. that he is now on the war-path." said Mike. and try to get something out of me. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. and I said I didn't care. was it?" "Yes. that was about all. Masters are all whales on confession. then. If I can't produce this boot. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. too." "Well. and go out and watch the dandelions growing. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned." he said. and forgot all about it? No? No. I hadn't painted his bally dog. which was me." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it. and the chap who painted Sammy. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers. "Not for a pretty considerable time. You see. You had better put the case in my hands. when Mike had finished.

" said Psmith. Jackson will be with him in a moment. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting. Downing which hung on the wall. "Don't go. "Tell Willie. Smith." said Psmith encouragingly." said Psmith. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage. "Oh. He had not been gone two minutes. at the same dignified rate of progress. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. it seemed. sir. Thence. who had just been told it was like his impudence. "Is Mr. He was examining a portrait of Mr." he added. Don't go in for any airy explanations." Mike got up. Simply stick to stout denial. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. "They now knock before entering. "All this is very trying. The postman was at the door when he got there. . carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. and requested to wait. Downing." With which expert advice. He was. "_You're_ all right. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. "Tell him to write." suggested Psmith. "Just you keep on saying you're all right. he allowed Mike to go on his way. You can't beat it.There was a tap at the door. Downing shortly. when the housemaster came in. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. caught sight of him. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith. "An excellent likeness. "Well. Jackson. who had leaned back in his chair. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner. "See how we have trained them. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. wrapped in thought." "I told you so. and. heaved himself up again. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog." He turned to the small boy." said Mr." said Mike to Psmith. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day." "Ha!" said Mr. answered the invitation. when Psmith. passed away. "that Mr. I say. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you. sir. Come in." A small boy." he said." said Psmith." The emissary departed. Stout denial is the thing.

"I do not think you fully realise. do not realise this. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. As for Psmith . There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. Downing to see you." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. felt awkward. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. it was not Jackson. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. Mr. "but----" "Not at all. but boys nearly always do. The headmaster was just saying. Downing." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. Jackson. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. "I would not have interrupted you. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. He could not believe it. what it got was the dramatic interruption. "Mr. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. sir. with a summary of the evidence which Mr." said Mr. except possibly the owner of the dog." said Psmith. A voice without said. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. "No. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. As it happened. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. It was a boy in the same house. Downing had laid before him. would have thought it funny at first. Downing. especially if you really are innocent."I did it. sir. but anybody. After the first surprise. and the headmaster. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. as a rule. unsupported by any weighty evidence. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. Smith. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. as he sat and looked at Mike. Masters. The atmosphere was heavy. It was a kid's trick. who committed the--who painted my dog.

" He had reached the door." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression." "No. Downing leaped in his chair. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. "May I go. Adair. what did you wish to say. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. Downing was saying." said the headmaster. Mr. Downing. "Yes. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. tell Smith that I should like to see him. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. Mr. Jackson. sir. and er--. This was bound to mean the sack. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. "Adair!" ." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. "Come in. if possible. "Certainly. when again there was a knock." he said. we know--. So Mr. Adair. no. "Ah. as if he had been running. Mike simply did not believe it." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. If Psmith had painted Sammy. looking at Mr. if you are going back to your house. He sat there." said Mr. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom. sir?" he said. Well. "Oh. sir.having done it. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion. Mike felt. hardly listening to what Mr." "Yes. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. It was Adair. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. who was nodding from time to time. "Smith!" said the headmaster. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. or even thankful. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. with calm triumph. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. sir. Downing. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. sir." said the Head. certainly. Downing----" "It was Dunster.

Downing. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. if Dunster had really painted the dog." Mr. and he told me that Mr." "Smith told you?" said Mr. who. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. the dog. in the words of an American author. He has left the school. that Psmith. too. sir. had played a mean trick on him. And why. He rolled about. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. sir. should be innocent. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. despite the evidence against him. of all people? Dunster.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice." said the headmaster. But that Adair should inform him. had left the school at Christmas. sir. He stopped the night in the village. Downing had gone over to see you. Downing's voice was thunderous. "Yes. Downing at once. Downing. That Mike. was curious. sir. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. for a rag--for a joke. It was a . I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. two minutes after Mr." "I see. sir. "Adair!" "Yes." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. sir. but not particularly startling. Well. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. Then I met Smith outside the house." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. he remembered dizzily. and that. "But Adair. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. sir. was guiltless. sir. Downing snorted." "_Laughed!_" Mr. sir. "Yes. His brain was swimming. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. I tried to find Mr. I'd better tell Mr. but he wasn't in the house. Why Dunster. perhaps.

" "In the hall!" "Yes. but. I suppose. but slightly deprecating." he observed. "It is still raining. Nobody seemed to have anything to say." "Thank you. If he did not do it." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient. Barlow. He arrived soon after Mr. Smith. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr. It was not long. sir. pressing a bell. Smith. Mr. He was cheerful. while it lasted." said the headmaster. Ask him to step up." "The sergeant.foolish. He gave the impression of one who. sir. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure. Downing." "If you please. Barlow. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. though sure of his welcome. saying that he would wait. sir." said Mr. sir." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog." "Another freak of Dunster's. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. the silence was quite solid." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner. "I shall write to him. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. "You wished to see me. The door was opened. as the butler appeared. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation. Smith is waiting in the hall. Adair." "H'm. Outwood's house. sir?" "Sit down." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience. "kindly go across to Mr. discreditable thing to have done. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window." said Mr." said the headmaster. "Mr. Downing. as you would probably wish to see him shortly." he said. sir. sir. feels that some slight apology is expected from him. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs. ." "Yes.

Smith--" began the headmaster. there was silence." he said. I do not for a moment wish to pain you. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities. "Er--Smith. "Smith." "What!" cried the headmaster. when a murder has been committed. sir." proceeded Psmith placidly. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. but have you--er." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. sir. When he and Psmith were alone. sir. Psmith bent forward encouragingly. "It is remarkable. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson. "how frequently. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. Jackson. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. "Smith. "I should like to see you alone for a moment. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. "The curse of the present age. "The craze for notoriety." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. Downing burst out." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction. sir. let us say. do you remember ever having had. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair.Mr. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it." he replied sadly. He paused again." "Yes. "Smith. as a child. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No." "But. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. Mr." He made a motion towards the door. "Er--Smith. Then he went on." .

Smith. never mind that for the present. sir. For the moment. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him." "I think you are existing between can return to it say. "Well?" said Mike. "You _are_ the limit."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list. "Well. I shall. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves. sir.. We had a very pleasant chat. "but. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion. "It was a very wrong thing to do.. as he walked downstairs." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know." said the headmaster hurriedly. but he said nothing. This is strictly between ourselves.." said Psmith. and then I tore myself away. quite so. Smith. Smith. You think. Good-night. Downing's dog." . and there seemed some danger of his being expelled.. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr. it was like this. sir----" Privately." "Well. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting. "Not a bad old sort. Smith. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. "What's he done?" "Nothing.. "Good-night. "By no means a bad old sort. the proper relations boy and--Well." said Adair." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. then. tell nobody. at last. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so." There was a pause. sir. if you do not wish it. That was the whole thing. let me hear what you wish to course." He held out his hand. sir.. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further." said Psmith cheerfully. "Of course. We later." said Psmith meditatively to himself. You are a curious boy." said the headmaster. sir. of sometimes apt to forget. of course. Of course." said Psmith. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it.

"And it was jolly good of you." "Oh. There is a certain type of . and things were going badly for Sedleigh. "Good-night. Psmith thanked him courteously." Psmith's expression was one of pain." said Mike. "By the way. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. Adair. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is. who had led on the first innings. "my very best love." "What's that?" asked Psmith." "Well. and that Sedleigh had lost. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game. I should think they're certain to. you're a marvel." said Mike. had only to play out time to make the game theirs. when you see him. I believe you did. "My dear Comrade Jackson." * * * * * "I say. I'm surprised at you. and Wrykyn. You make me writhe. In a way one might have said that the game was over. "you wrong me. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson. for it was a one day match." said Adair."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing." said Mike obstinately." "And give Comrade Downing. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's. too. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_." said Mike suddenly." said he." Psmith moaned. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner." said Adair." said Psmith. "They've got a vacant date. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over. Psmith. chuck it. all the same. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. They walked on towards the houses. I hope the dickens they'll do it." "Well.

Psmith. but his batting was not equal to his bowling.school batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. with the exception of Adair. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. The team listened. He had had no choice but to take first innings. a collapse almost invariably ensues.C. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday.C. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. He had an enormous reach. and the others. the bulwark of the side. this in itself was a calamity. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. so Adair had chosen to bat first. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. as he did repeatedly. The weather had been bad for the last week. Mike. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. for seventy-nine. the Wrykyn slow bowler. playing back to half-volleys. July the twentieth. declined to hit out at anything. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. and . that Wrykyn were weak this season. but were not comforted. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. and. Sedleigh. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. and Mike. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. on Mike's authority. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. whatever might happen to the others. crawled to the wickets. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. but then Wrykyn cricket. Stone. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. and he had fallen after hitting one four. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. Adair did not suffer from panic. Ten minutes later the innings was over. and he used it. and from whom. Sedleigh had never been proved. from time immemorial. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. assisted by Barnes. as a rule. with his score at thirty-five. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. with Barnes not out sixteen. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. had played inside one from Bruce. Whereas Wrykyn. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. the team had been all on the jump. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. Experience counts enormously in school matches. Wrykyn had then gone in. and were clean bowled. several of them. It was likely to get worse during the day. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. Unless the first pair make a really good start. Robinson. It was useless for Adair to tell them.

was getting too dangerous. who had just reached his fifty. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. if they could knock Bruce off. but it was a comfort. as they were crossing over. skied one to Strachan at cover. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. his slows playing havoc with the tail. and lashed out stoutly. at fifteen. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. the next pair. and which he hit into the pavilion. proceeded to play with caution. helped by the wicket. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. at any rate. The deficit had been wiped off. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. having another knock. all but a dozen runs. and refused to hit at the bad. But Adair and Psmith. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. which was Psmith's. Adair declared the innings closed. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. Adair bowled him. and after him Robinson and the rest. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. Psmith got the next man stumped. Seventeen for three. And they had hit. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. who had taken six wickets. And when. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. A quarter past six struck. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. especially Psmith. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. He treated all the bowlers alike. As Mike reached the pavilion. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. So Drummond and Rigby. They were playing all the good balls. with an hour all but five minutes to go. had never been easy. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. and the collapse ceased. Changes of bowling had been tried. But. restored to his proper frame of mind. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. when Psmith was bowled. As is usual at this stage of a match. And when Stone came in. and he was convinced that. The time was twenty-five past five. they felt. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. their nervousness had vanished. It doesn't help my . two runs later. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. This was better than Sedleigh had expected.

discussing things in general and the game in particular. "he was going about in a sort of trance. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. when Adair took the ball from him. because they won't hit at them." said Psmith. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. diving to the right. he's satisfied. As a matter of fact." "I suppose they will. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand.leg-breaks a bit. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. Still. Incidentally. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. Five minutes before. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. "I feel like a beastly renegade. Adair will have left." said Mike. That's what Adair was so keen on. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn. There were twenty-five minutes to go. and Mike. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. "Still. and five wickets were down. The batsman. Wrykyn will swamp them. playing against Wrykyn." "When I last saw Comrade Adair. I'm glad we won. got to it as he was falling. hitting out." said Psmith. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. collapsed uncompromisingly. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game." "Yes. and the tail. you see." "He bowled awfully well. was a shade too soon. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. They can get on fixtures with decent . Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. and it'll make him happy for weeks. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. Adair's a jolly good sort. Sedleigh was on top again. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. "I say. is to get the thing started. the great thing. and chucked it up. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. I shall have left." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. After that the thing was a walk-over.

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